Saturday, November 07, 2009

Turkey ready to further Syria-Israel dialogue

During joint press conference with French counterpart in Paris, FM Davutoglu says, 'All countries that seek peace are our strategic allies, including Israel of course'


Turkey is ready to oversee a new stage of secret peace talks between Israel and Syria, resuming a role it had played until last year, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Paris on Friday. Historically Israel's only friend in the Middle East, Ankara has in recent years served as a conduit for diplomatic exchanges between the Jewish state and its arch foe Damascus about improving relations.

But Turkey was angered by Israel's behavior in the January 2008 conflict in Gaza and ties have become strained. Last month Israel was excluded from annual joint military exercises and the back channel to Syria has gone quiet.

Turkey -- a candidate for membership of the European Union -- is keen to prove its usefulness as a peace broker in the region, and Davutoglu said it was ready to resume its "honest broker" role if asked by Israel and Syria.

"It's for the two sides to decide that. Turkey would like the talks to restart where they left off, or else within a framework decided upon by the parties," he told reporters during an official visit to Paris.

"We think that it will happen according to a calendar decided by the two sides," he said, sitting alongside his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner.

Davutoglu personally took charge of five previous rounds of talks, acting as chairman of telephone conference calls between former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad.

The talks were stalled over "one or two words", Davutoglu said, refusing to go into detail over these obstacles.

The talks were suspended because of Israeli attacks on Palestinian targets in Gaza and since then, Olmert has been succeeded by his rival Benjamin Netanyahu, a right-winger who is seen as more hardline.

"Turkey showed the whole world that it was sincere, honest and determined in its role as Middle East mediator. All the countries that seek peace are our strategic allies, including Israel of course," the minister said.

"As soon as the path to peace opens again I'm sure that relations between Turkey and Israel will return at the same good level."

Comment: This is only a political move by Turkey. They are choosing to move away from the West and toward the East. This is part of their overall plan to pressure the West and especially Israel. More fabrications by Turkey-we were not a few words away from moving the peace process forward-this sounds nice, plays well in Left Wing circles especially in Washington DC. The on the ground realities are quite different. More on this political ploy in antother post.

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