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'Israel to propose Olmert-Assad talks'

Israeli envoys holding indirect peace talks with Syrian officials will propose the leaders of the two countries should meet in France next month, Israeli political sources said on Monday.

world Updated: Jun 16, 2008 11:20 IST

Israeli envoys holding indirect peace talks with Syrian officials will propose the leaders of the two countries should meet in France next month, Israeli political sources said on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched the Turkish-mediated peace negotiations last month.

Both Olmert and Assad were due to attend a summit of European and Mediterranean countries in Paris on July 13 and Olmert was offering to meet Assad on the sidelines, said the sources.

"The idea isn't necessarily to hold an hours-long conversation, just a face-to-face encounter that would in itself serve to take things forward," said one source. "This is one of the fresh ideas that is being raised in Turkey."

The source, who declined to be named, said the Israeli envoys began the latest round of indirect talks on Sunday.

The last direct talks between the two countries stalled in 2000 over Israel's reluctance to return the entire Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured from Syria in a 1967 war.

Syria is firm in its demand for all the Golan.

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