Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus Wednesday to discuss restarting stalled negotiations between Syria and Israel.
Following the meeting, Erdogan told reporters he visited Syria after receiving several requests to help revive peace talks between Israel and Syria.
“We feel a responsibility ... Requests to resume the process have started to come. We are working on the issue,” Erdogan told reporters.
In 2008, Turkey brokered four rounds of indirect talks between Israel and Syria, which have been delayed since December due to Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
Responding to news of the meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s media advisor Nir Hefetz said, “The Prime Minister said that he is willing to travel to anywhere necessary to this end, and that any channel – the Turkish or the American – is legitimate.”
Meanwhile, a senior Likud part member in Israel questioned Erdogan’s role as a neutral broker and expressed doubt on Assad’s willingness to forge peace.
As a precondition to peace negotiations, Syria seeks the entire return of the Golan Heights, which Israel seized during the 1967 Six Day War. In May, however, Assad played down the possibility of talks, saying Syria lacked a “partner.”