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Syria, Israel confirm indirect peace talks via Turkey

Latest update : 2008-05-22

Syria and Israel confirmed they will hold indirect peace talks, with Turkey as a mediator. Previous talks broke down in 2000 over the fate of the Golan Heights. Israeli said the negotiations were in a 'serious spirit.' Annette Young reports.

Israel and Syria have launched indirect peace negotiations, with Turkey acting as a go-between, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced on Wednesday.
  
"The two sides indicated they want to lead these negotiations in a serious spirit so as to achieve complete peace," Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev said.
  
Peace talks between Syria and Israel broke down in 2000 over the fate of the strategic Golan Heights plateau occupied by Israel for four decades.
  
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad revealed last month that Turkey had passed on a message from Israel expressing its readiness to swap the Golan Heights for peace, as Ankara renewed mediation efforts launched last year.
  
Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move never recognised by the international community.
  
Syria has consistently demanded the return of the whole of the Golan down to the shores of the Sea of Galilee -- Israel's main water source -- as its price for peace. But Israel baulked at the demand in the last peace talks.
  

Date created : 2008-05-21

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