Syrian FM: Too early to speak on direct talks with Israel
Syria's foreign minister said on Friday it was premature to talk of direct peace talks with Israel. A third round of indirect talks between the two sides took place in Istanbul this week and ended with an agreement to hold a fourth round of negotiations in Turkey in late July, a Turkish government source told Reuters on Thursday.
"It's premature to answer this question," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said when asked when direct talks could be held. He confirmed that both sides had agreed to hold a fourth round of indirect talks, but did not say where or when.
"The moment when we feel that we've got the agreed common ground between us and the Israelis, which covers all elements of a peace agreement, we will agree on the location of these direct talks," he said in a question and answer session at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI).
"The direct talks need an active American participation and sponsoring. To give guarantees we need an active European role maybe represented by France. We need also a role for Russia, a role for the United Nations for these talks," Moualem conveyed.
"We are at the beginning," Moualem said, adding that he had spent 10 years negotiating with the Israelis between 1991 and 2000, when he said 90 percent of an agreement was reached in direct talks. "Now we are in the third round. I did not calculate at that time how many rounds I had with the Israelis, more than 1,000 rounds," he said.