FM Davutoglu holds talks in Damascus
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had talks with senior Syrian officials over the weekend with a focus on the Middle East peace process as well as intermittent tensions between Lebanon and Syria. Davutoglu had separate closed-door meetings with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani. He also met with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moallem. Israel and Syria held four indirect rounds of peace talks with Turkish mediation in 2008, but they were suspended following the deadly Israeli offensive in Gaza at the end of 2008. Ankara says it is willing to resume mediating indirect talks between Syria and Israel only if both parties clearly voice their will for such mediation. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was prepared to meet with Assad immediately and without preconditions. In response, Moallem reiterated that Israel must first declare its intention to withdraw to its 1967 borders before any talks can take place.