GeriGündem Syria's Assad meets Erdogan as Turkey mediates for Mideast peace
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Syria's Assad meets Erdogan as Turkey mediates for Mideast peace

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan met on Tuesday Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Aegean resort town of Bodrum in southern Turkey. The two are expected to discuss the Turkish-mediated indirect Syria-Israel peace talks and Iran's nuclear row. (UPDATED)

Recent developments in the Middle East are expected to be discussed at the meeting between Erdogan and Assad, who arrived Tuesday in Bodrum, where he plans to spend his vacation, and also meet with the Turkish prime minister.

Assad was welcomed by Erdogan at an airport in the beach resort town of Bodrum. After having a luncheon together, the two leaders held a meeting at the hotel, which would host the Syrian president during his vacation.

"Erdogan invited him (Assad) and they have issues to discuss, such as peace talks," a government source, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

The fourth round of indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria, mediated by Turkey, ended last week with a fifth round due in August. Israel and Syria launched peace talks in May but have not yet agreed to hold face-to-face negotiations. 

The parties are negotiating over the fate of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau which Israel occupied in a 1967 war and which Syrian wants it to return.

Assad met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday and the two leaders had discussed the international crisis over Tehran's nuclear program.

Turkey had intensified its mediating efforts in the region. As with the indirect talks to resolve the Syria-Israel conflict, Turkey had been holding talks with Iran and Western countries over the nuclear row.

Ahmadinejad would also visit Turkey in August 14. However, Turkey's Vatan daily reported on Tuesday that U.S. President George W. Bush objected to Turkey's plans to hold talks with Ahmadinejad.

Turkey has the right to conduct negotiations with the Iranian leadership because it wants to ensure political stability in Iraq and the rest of the region, Turkish officials told their U.S. counterparts, according to the newspaper. Ahmadinejad is due to meet Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Istanbul.

Western countries had proposed Iran a package of new incentives to stop uranium enrichment works. The West had said if Iran does not accept the offer, then it would face new sanctions.

Iran responded to this offer in a letter handed to the EU on Tuesday after missing the deadline set for Sunday. But it again defied calls to give a final answer to the package, as the letter did not contain the final response that world powers had been waiting for.

Turkey is seeking to act as a go-between in the dispute between Iran and the United Nations over Iran's uranium enrichment program, which the U.S. says is designed to produce a bomb. Turkey says it doesn't object to the nuclear plans provided the energy is used for non-military purposes.

 

 

 

 

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