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Spokesman: Israel interested in restarting peace talks with Syria
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09:11, April 25, 2008

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Israel was interested in restarting peace talks with Syria, a spokesman of Israeli Prime Minister's Office said on Thursday.

"We are interested in peace with Syria. We know what the Syrians expect from negotiations and the Syrians knows what Israel wants from the negotiations," Mark Regev, spokesman of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was quoted by local daily Ha'aretz as saying.

Regev made the remarks in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's confirmation that Olmert had offered an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for full peace with its Arab neighbor.

Speaking in an interview published earlier Thursday in the Qatari newspaper Al-Watan, Assad said that the message had been passed from Israel to Syria via Turkey which is often seen as a mediator between the two countries.

According to Assad, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "announced Israel's readiness to withdraw from the Golan Heights in return for peace with Syria."

Erdogan had delivered Olmert's message to Syria a week ago, Assad added.

Syrian media had previously reported that Erdogan phoned Assad and told him that Olmert was willing to give up the Golan Heights.

Peace talks between Syria and Israel foundered in 2000 largely over the fate of the strategic Golan Heights, occupied by the Jewish state in the 1967 Middle East war.


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