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Turkey: Israel prepared to swap Golan for peace

Latest update : 2008-04-24

Turkish Prime MInister Erdogan told Syrian President al-Assad that Israel is 'ready' to withdraw from the Golan in return for peace with Syria. (Report: M. McCarthy)

Turkey has told Syria that Israel is prepared to swap the Golan Heights for peace, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was quoted as saying on Thursday, a day after reports emerged of a Turkish peace mediation.
   
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "informed me of Israel's readiness to withdraw from the Golan in return for peace with Syria," Assad was quoted by the Qatari daily Al-Watan as saying.
   
In excerpts from an interview to be published in full on Sunday, the paper quoted Assad as saying Ankara has been mediating between Israel and Syria since April 2007.
   
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert assured Erdogan of his readiness to return the Golan, and this was relayed to Syria a week ago, Assad said.
   
"What we now need is to find common ground through the Turkish mediator," he said, adding that any negotiations with Israel would be conducted via Ankara.
   
Direct negotiations may become possible under the next US administration, the Syrian president said.
   
He said the issue would be discussed during a visit by Erdogan to Damascus on Saturday.   
   
Assad's remarks follow reports in Syria that Erdogan has assured Damascus that Israel is ready to return all of the Golan Heights in return for peace.
   
Israel captured the Golan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move never recognised by the international community.
   

Date created : 2008-04-24

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