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Syria turns down direct talks with Israel

November 16, 2009
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer of direct peace talks with Syria was rebuffed on Friday when Syrian President Bashar Assad claimed he was ready for peace, but not to sit at the same negotiating table as the Israelis. During his visit to Paris just two days after Netanyahu was in the French capital, Assad said Israel and Syria should resume indirect negotiations via Turkish mediators.

Assad insisted that since peace negotiations must focus on Israel's return of the Golan Heights to Syria, direct talks between himself and Netanyahu would be fruitless.

Many in Israel are reluctant to entrust the mediation role to Turkey at this point, considering recent tensions between the two nations