Assad: "Turkey's role 'crucial' to peace talks with Israel"
Turkey must play a role if peace talks between Syria and Israel are to resume, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told a French envoy. Assad, speaking to Claude Cousseran, a French presidential envoy entrusted with trying to relaunch negotiations between the two sides, also said on Monday that a peace agreement between Syria and the present Israeli government was “hard to imagine.” Assad told Cousseran that any new talks must build on the four rounds of indirect talks that were mediated by Turkey but broke down in the early stages of the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip in 2008. In May, relations between Israel and Turkey deteriorated after Israeli soldiers killed one American-Turkish and eight Turkish civilians onboard an aid ship trying to break the Israeli siege of Gaza. “President Assad affirmed that Syria seeks a just and comprehensive peace and the importance of coordinating with Turkey in this regard,” Syria’s official news agency said.