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Israel, Syria talks resume in Turkey

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Turkish-mediated talks between Israel and Syria were set to resume.

Envoys for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert flew to Istanbul on Tuesday for a third round of indirect negotiations with their Syrian counterparts, Israeli media reported.

According to the reports, the talks were to take place at a hotel, with Turkish diplomats shuttling between the two delegations’ rooms.

Israel and Syria announced in May they had stepped up contacts, with the possibility of direct negotiations being held in the near future. That has stirred speculation that Olmert and Syrian President Bashar Assad could meet on the sidelines of an international conference in Paris this month.

But Assad has ruled out such a dramatic encounter before Israel commits to returning all of the Golan Heights to Syria under any peace accord. Olmert has been hazy on territorial concessions and demanded that Syria disengage from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas – something rejected in Damascus.

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