Turkish FM arrives in Damascus at start of Mideast tour

IAF raid on Syrian target near border with Turkey expected to figure high in talks with Syrian officials.

October 6, 2007 19:48
1 minute read.
Turkish FM arrives in Damascus at start of Mideast tour

Turkish FM in Syria 224.. (photo credit: AP)

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan arrived in Damascus on Saturday at the start of a Mideast tour to discuss the possibilities for peace in the region. Babacan was greeted at Damascus Airport by assistant foreign minister, Abdul-Fattah Ammora. He is expected to also visit Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel as part of his regional tour. Turkish media reports have said Babacan is expected to play a mediatory role between Syria and Israel, with whom his country maintains good relations. An IAF raid on a Syrian target near Syria's border with Turkey last month is expected to figure high in Babacan's talks with Syrian officials. Syrian President Bashar Assad acknowledged in a television interview for the first time Monday that the Israeli incursion had been an attack. He claimed the target was an unused military building. Israel has not said what the target was. A spent fuel tank from an IAF aircraft was found inside Turkish territory following the Sept. 6 raid. Babacan at the time said it was "unacceptable" and demanded quick explanation from Israel. Babacan will also discuss with Syrian officials the US-sponsored Mideast peace conference planned for later this year. Syria has said it will not attend the conference if it did not address Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war. Babacan did not make any comments upon his arrival in Damascus, but before departing Turkey he said: "The region is going through a sensitive time and we are facing problems, primarily the Palestinian issue and developments in Iraq that could affect the entire region." "Turkey will continue its efforts and contributions for the establishment of peace and stability in the region," he said. He is scheduled to meet with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa later Saturday and with Assad on Sunday.

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