Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 20:34 pm (KSA) 17:34 pm (GMT)

Erdogan hopeful Syria and Israel can make peace

"One does not begin an effort of this kind without hope," Erdogan (Left) said.
"One does not begin an effort of this kind without hope," Erdogan (Left) said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was deeply satisfied after talks with his host Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, amid efforts by the Turkish government to facilitate peace negotiations between Syria and Israel.

Assad and Recep Tayyip Erdogan examined "ways of activating the peace process" and "agreed to pursue the coordination between the two countries," the state-run SANA news agency reported.

The Syrian president also "paid tribute to Ankara's efforts" and stressed that "Syria is ready to pursue its cooperation with Turkey in order to guarantee the security and stability of the region," SANA said.

SANA quoted Erdogan as saying he was "deeply satisfied by the positive and fruitful talks" he had with Assad and underscored "the importance of Syria's role in reaching political solutions" in the Middle East.

Upon his return to Ankara after the one-day trip, Erdogan said Turkey would pursue its peace efforts and send an envoy to Israel, but did not say who the envoy was or when the visit would take place.

When asked whether he was hopeful of achieving a concrete result, he said: "One does not begin an effort of this kind without hope."

Earlier this week Assad revealed that Turkey has been mediating between Syria and Israel since last year and had recently passed a message from the Jewish state expressing a readiness to swap the Golan Heights for peace.

Erdogan said improving ties with countries in the region has allowed Ankara to step up efforts to facilitate peace in the Middle East.

"The atmosphere of trust makes it necessary for Turkey to act as a mediator," he said earlier in the day as he headed to Syria.

"God willing, our proactive peace diplomacy will contribute to expected developments between Syria and Israel."

In remarks published Thursday in the Qatari daily Al-Watan, Assad said Erdogan "informed me of Israel's readiness to withdraw from the Golan in return for peace with Syria" and said the message had been relayed a week ago.

"What we now need is to find common ground through the Turkish mediator," Assad said, adding that any negotiations with Israel would be conducted via Ankara.

Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.

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