Syrian President says Turkey Vital for Regional Peace

ANKARA (Hurriyet)–Turkey should be involved in all aspects of a peace process between Syria and Israel, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with the Turkish state-owned TRT Turkiyya Arabic Channel on Wednesday.

Al-Assad said Turkey had achieved great success in Turkish-Syrian relations and regional developments, especially in relation to Turkey’s mediation of indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel. He added that the country should be involved in all efforts to secure peace.

According to him, Syria and other regional neighbors “have full confidence in Turkish officials,” adding that relations between Turkey and Syria had significantly improved in a surprisingly short period of time.

Western efforts to renew peace talks between Syria and Israel are focusing on finding common ground, but nothing has crystallized yet and the chances of success are unknown, al-Assad said.

The Syrian leader said envoys from the two countries were trying to accommodate Syria’s demands for the return of the Golan Heights and Israel’s security objectives.

Al-Assad said Turkey’s stance on some particular regional matters had contributed to the improvement of Turkish-Syrian ties, meaning the two countries were currently enjoying full confidence in one another.

Asked about an earlier statement in which he noted that tensions between Turkey and Israel would have a negative impact on the peace process, al-Assad said he meant a total breakdown in Turkish-Israeli relations could affect the peace process.

“Turkey’s good relations with Iran and other neighbors also served the interests of Syria,” he said, adding that problems with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, was a regional issue that was a mutual concern for Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.

Al-Assad also said his country was monitoring developments in Iraq since they also directly affect Syria and added that the neighbor’s retention of territorial integrity was of paramount concern for Syria.

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