Israel and Syria hold indirect talks

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Nicosia, May 22: The Israeli, the Syrian and the Turkish government confirmed on Wednesday that indirect talks are being held in Istanbul between Israel and Syria, aimed at reaching a comprehensive peace agreement. Turkey has played a mediating role and has facilitated contact between the two sides.

Previous talks in 2000 had broken down, when the two sides disagreed on the extent of Israel's withdrawal from the Golan Heights. The two most senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office have been leading the Israeli negotiations and were talking to their Syrian counterparts, through Turkish mediators.

Ehud Olmert's office said both sides were talking "in good faith and openly" and added: "They decided to pursue the dialogue between them in a serious and continuous way, in order to achieve the goal of comprehensive peace."

In a statement, Syria's Foreign Ministry said both sides had "expressed their desire to conduct the talks in goodwill and decided to continue dialogue with seriousness to achieve comprehensive peace".

There have been no reports if the talks had made specific progress, but apparently the negotiations have made enough progress because all the sides have now acknowledged the holding of talks.


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