Olmert Hints at Talks with Syria

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke Wednesday of re-opening talks with Syria.

"I [have] said indeed that I'm prepared to make peace with Syria," Olmert told foreign journalists in Jerusalem. "I hope that the Syrians are prepared to make peace with Israel, and I hope that the circumstances will allow us to sit together," he said, adding that it didn't "mean when we sit together, you have to see us."

According to Alon Liel, former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who would like to see open negotiations with Israel in place of third-party mediation by Turkey's Ahmet Davutoglu, foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erogan.

Since May 2007, Olmert has made statements off and on about opening talks with Syrian President Basher Assad.

When he returned a visit to the States in July 2007, Olmert put the issue on a back burner, primarily because the U.S. wasn't interested in opening dialogue with Syria and Syria wasn't interested in talking without U.S. involvement.

During last week's visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Olmert again brought the issue up as a means of drawing Syria away from Iran, a plan the Mossad (Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations) believes will fail.

While Israel has predicated talks on an end to Syrian support for terror organizations, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and its close ties with Iran, Olmert thinks the prospect of negotiations might convince Syria to renounce its state sponsorship of terrorism.

And though Olmert alludes to secret talks, the Syrians want open negotiations with the United States involved.

Meanwhile, the Russians plan to include Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights on the agenda of its June Middle East peace conference.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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