Syria rules out any mediator besides Turkey in indirect talks with Israel
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem yesterday said that his country would resume indirect peace talks with Israel under only Turkish mediation, ruling out any alternative to replace Ankara. The indirect talks between Syria and Israel were broken off after Israel launched its Gaza offensive in late 2008, which also strained Turkish-Israeli ties. Up to then Turkey had made great efforts to achieve a breakthrough between Syria and Israel, but Israel's Gaza attack derailed the entire process at a time when expectations ran high for a peaceful resolution between the two countries. This also contributed to Ankara's reaction to the attack, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing Israel of stabbing Turkey in the back. Speaking to Syrian state news agency Sana, al-Muallem said, "We won't accept any alternative country assuming Turkey's mediator role. Israel should understand this." He also praised Turkey's honesty in its mediation between his country and Israel.