Sarkozy says France, Turkey involved in mideast peace efforts
France, along with Turkey, is involved in efforts to achieve peace between Syria and Israel, said French President Nicolas Sarkozy, seeking to boost his country's standing in the Middle East by playing a credible role in peace efforts, in a key speech on Wednesday. "Peace between Syria and Israel is equally possible," Sarkozy, outlining his foreign policy goals in a traditional speech to French ambassadors. "France, which has renewed regular dialogue with Damascus that is helpful for the entire region, is involved, alongside Turkey, in seeking an agreement." Syria, which has built close ties with Turkey in recent years, insists Ankara remain a mediator in any new peace talks, while Israel, whose relations with Turkey deteriorated sharply after a bloody Israeli raid on an aid flotilla on May 31, has welcomed French involvement. Syrian President Bashar Assad last month told Turkish journalists that Turkey remains Syria's first choice for mediator and that other countries could only play a supportive role, not an alternative one. But he also suggested that the resumption of talks with Turkish mediation could be difficult if Israel fails to meet Ankara's demands for an apology and compensation for families of the raid victims. "Turkey can't give up on the blood of its nationals for the sake of mediation. Otherwise, it might lose its weight and credibility," said Assad.