09/02/2008, 00.00
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In Damascus, surprise four-party summit on Middle East

French president Nicolas Sarkozy arrives in the Syrian capital tomorrow. It has been announced that the following day, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, will arrive.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The visit of French president Nicolas Sarkozy to Syria, which begins tomorrow, has turned into an unexpected four-party summit on the Middle East. On Thursday, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, will also arrive. Announced by a Turkish diplomatic source, the summit promises to be important, reinforcing Turkey's role as a mediator between Israel and Syria, and the similar role played by Qatar in bringing an end to the political impasse in Lebanon with the successful conclusion to the Doha accord. The Gulf country also holds the rotating presidency of the Gulf Cooperation Council, as France does of the European Union.

So far, there have been no leaks about what is on the agenda for the meeting. In Turkey, the speculation is that it will focus on peace with Israel. Indirect negotiations between the two countries, which were supposed to enter their fifth round in recent days, have been suspended, but only "temporarily". According to the Israelis, this is due to the fact that Prime Minister Olmert's adviser Yoram Turbowicz, charged with carrying the negotiations forward, has resigned. Israeli sources have, in fact, said on the radio that the resumption of negotiations is "very possible". For his part, Syrian information minister Mohsen Bilal, in a statement released by the state news agency SANA, identified negotiations with the Jewish state as one of the means that the country will continue to use to "liberate" the Golan Heights (in the photo), taken by Israel in the war of 1967. Negotiations are intended to "reach a just and comprehensive peace" with Israel.

It is also difficult to imagine that Sarkozy and the emir of Qatar will not discuss the situation in Lebanon and the difficulties of the national unity government, which emerged from the Doha accord and which the president of the republic, Michel Suleiman, has discussed with the emir.


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See also
Peace with Israel, Iranian nuclear program addressed in meeting between Assad and Erdogan
It's official: Damascus and Jerusalem are talking peace
Fifth round of indirect talks between Damascus and Jerusalem set for September 18
New round of indirect talks today between Israel and Syria
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