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Syria-Israel talks over, next round in August: source PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 01 August 2008

REUTERS, ISTANBUL- A fresh round of indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria, mediated by Turkey, ended on Wednesday and a fifth round is due next month, a senior source close to the talks told Reuters.

Israel and Syria launched the talks in May but have not yet agreed to hold face-to-face negotiations.

"The fourth round has ended. It was positive. The fifth round will be in mid-August, and again indirect," the senior source close to the talks told Reuters. The talks took place at an undisclosed location in Istanbul.

The source said he expected a sixth round in September, but did not specify whether that round would be face-to-face.

"When the process moves to direct talks it means we are very close to a solution," the source said.

Negotiations centre on the fate of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. Damascus demands the return of all the Golan.

Israel, in turn, wants Syria to scale back ties with the Jewish state's main foes -- Iran, the Palestinian group Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement. Syria has so far refused to do so.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on Damascus on Tuesday to break with Iran in favor of a broader peace.

He also described the fresh round of Israeli-Syrian talks as "serious and practical".

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