Olmert wants to meet Assad next month
Israeli envoys holding a new round of indirect peace talks with Syrian counterparts in Turkey will propose the leaders of the two countries meet at a conference in France next month, Israeli political sources said on Monday. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched Turkish-mediated negotiations last month.
Both leaders are to attend a July 13 summit of a union of European and Mediterranean countries in Paris and Olmert has offered to meet Assad on the sidelines, Israeli political sources said. "The idea isn't necessarily to hold an hours-long conversation, just a face-to-face encounter that would, in itself, serve to take things forward," said one source. "This is one of the fresh ideas that is being raised in Turkey."
According to the source, Olmert aides Yoram Turbowicz and Shalom Turjeman held indirect talks with Syrian counterparts on Sunday and were continuing on Monday.
An Israeli political source said Olmert's delegation was not optimistic about the chances of Assad agreeing to meet the prime minister at this stage. "The assessment in Israel is that he (Assad) would first need something concrete in hand," the source said, according to Reuters.