The politically weakened government of Ehud Olmert is engaged in peace talks with neighboring Syria, the two countries have acknowledged. Turkey is moderating the indirect negotiations, the first since 2000. The last round of talks failed over the demand for Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.
In a statement, Syria’s foreign ministry said both sides had “expressed their desire to conduct the talks in goodwill and decided to continue dialogue with seriousness to achieve comprehensive peace”.
Mr Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev said the two countries had indicated “they want to lead these negotiations in a serious spirit so as to achieve complete peace”.
The Syrian foreign minister, Walid Muallem, said Israel had agreed to withdraw from the Golan up to the armistice line of 1967.
Israel has refused to comment on the claim, although a spokesman for Mr Olmert said the current talks were being carried out with the failure of the previous ones in mind, and that the talks had recently gathered momentum.