Israel ready for senior-level talks with Syria
Israel would be open to participating in a senior-level talks with the Syrians brokered by Turkey to test the waters for renewed peace negotiations, Israeli officials said on Sunday. Such a preliminary meeting between Israeli and Syrian representatives would be the next step in mediation attempts by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who held talks on Saturday with Syrian President Bashar al Assad, the officials said, according to Reuters.
That meeting could lay the groundwork for more formal talks in the future, Israeli officials said. "If such an invitation comes from Turkey, I can't see any reason why Israel would not attend," said a senior Israeli official.
"They would accept," another Israeli official said of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office.
While Assad sought out Olmert's stance on the Golan, Israeli officials said Olmert has been seeking assurances that peace talks would lead Syria to sever ties with Iran and anti-Israel groups, including Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas who controls the Gaza Strip. A senior Israeli official said it was unclear whether Olmert had received any assurances from the Syrian leadership to that effect. "The question of what price they're willing to pay remains an open question," the official said.