EU Foreign Minister
Catherine Ashton said at a meeting with reporters in Damascus during her first visit to the Middle East that she will discuss the resumption of talks between Syria and Israel with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the Cihan news agency reported.
During her visit, Ashton held talks with officials in
Beirut and Damascus .
Together with Turkey, Brussels seeks to resume the Syrian-Israeli negotiations, Ashton said at a press conference after meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"We understand the importance of Turkey's role in the negotiation process," she was quoted as saying by Cihan.
Indirect talks between Syria and Israel resumed in May 2008 with Turkey's mediation, but ceased after the outbreak of a large-scale Israeli military operation in Gaza against the rocket attacks of
Hamas militants in late December.
Syria refuses to negotiate with Israel until the Jewish states returns the Golan Heights, which were occupied in 1967 during the Arab-Israeli war.
Israel announced that it is ready to begin negotiations with Syria without any preconditions.
"After returning from the
Middle East, I plan to discuss this issue with my Turkish counterpart," Ashton said
Damascus pins hopes on Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but Turkey has not made an official statement on the issue, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem said. Ashton also expressed hope that she will soon return to Damascus for further talks with the Syrian leadership.
After her visit to
Jordan, Ashton will go to Israel and Palestine, as well as visit Gaza to monitor the use of EU humanitarian aid.