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Washington supports Israeli-Syrian negotiations

Latest update : 2008-06-06

During a press conference with Condoleezza Rice, the Turkish foreign minister, Ali Babacan, emphasised US support for negotiations between Israel and Syria, mediated by Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan dismissed any suggestion Thursday that the United States gave anything but its full support for Turkey's role in brokering new Israeli-Syrian negotiations.
  
"Just after the talks were announced two weeks ago, I think the United States was one of the first countries to come out with supportive stance," Babacan said at a press conference with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
  
"And Secretary Rice made immediate statements saying that the United States is behind this process," Babacan said when asked if he would like to see stronger US support.
  
"And I think we have no doubt about it, we are happy about their support, and this is actually a more of a complementary work that the United States has already been doing in the region," he said.
  
Two weeks ago Rice welcomed the announcement of indirect Israeli-Syrian negotiations but said the US priority was striving for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal this year.
  
During the press conference, Rice obliquely thanked Turkey for its role in the new Middle East talks.
  
"I was especially glad to have a chance to also thank Turkey for its active diplomacy around the world, including the extensive discussions that we've had about the efforts that Turkey is making to contribute to the comprehensive peace by sponsoring indirect talks between Israel and Syria," he said.
  
Two weeks ago a senior US official told reporters on the condition of anonymity that Washington had "no objection" to Syrian-Israeli talks and would encourage them, but it was not the US priority.
  
Countries across the region have all been urging President George W. "Bush to work hard to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians," he said.
  
"So in terms of our national interest, we get a bigger bang for the buck out of our investment on that (Palestinian) track. That doesn't mean we wouldn't go back to the other (Syrian) one. We have in the past," the official said.
  
At an international conference in Annapolis, Maryland that was attended by Turkey, Arab states and Israel, as well as others, in November last year, Bush and Rice relaunched Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

Date created : 2008-06-06

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