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News Brief


Syria conditioned direct peace talks with Israel on recognition of its conditions, including return of the Golan.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad on Wednesday played down speculation that indirect, Turkish-mediated negotiations which were announced by Jerusalem and Damascus last month could soon be upgraded.

“I think it is too early to resume direct talks. There are conditions,” he told reporters, adding that these include “restoration of the Syrian Golan.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has signaled willingness to commit to “painful” compromises for peace with Syria but has not elaborated on whether this would include ceding the Golan Heights.

Israeli and Turkish envoys are widely expected to reconvene in Istanbul this week.

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