EU wants Syrian-Israeli indirect peace talks to resume, says Ashton
The European Union's top diplomat Tuesday called on Syria and Israel to resume indirect peace talks, which have been stalled since last year, DPA reported.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Damascus with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem EU foreign-policy director Catherine Ashton said resuming the Syrian-Israeli negotiations was "extremely important" for the EU.
"The most important issue for the EU is to push the two sides to activate their talks," Ashton said, noting that the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict would pave the way for wider agreements in the region.
Earlier this month, Turkey announced that it was prepared to resume mediating indirect talks between Syria and Israel, but only if both parties agreed.
Negotiations reached a stalemate after the resignation of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Syria then withdrew from the talks in protest at Israel's three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip early last year.
"We did not receive a time frame from Turkey for the negotiations," said al-Moallem, "but Syria has full confidence in Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan."
During her visit to Damascus, Ashton met with President Bashar al- Assad and discussed bilateral relations, as well as means to foster the EU's role in the region.
Syria was the second stop of Ashton's first tour of the Middle East since assuming the EU post. The bloc's foreign policy chief arrived in Cairo on Monday and will be visiting Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Israel and Jordan.