'French envoy to visit Damascus, push Israel-Syria talks'

'As-Safir' reports Sarkozy to send special envoy Jean Claude Cousseran to meet with Syrian President Assad next week about resuming talks.

sarkozy 311 (photo credit: AP)
sarkozy 311
(photo credit: AP)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy  will send his envoy Jean Claude Cousseran to Damascus at the beginning of next week to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem to discuss the possibility of renewing peace negotiations between Syria and Israel, Lebanese daily As-Safir reported on Friday.
Cousseran was in Israel earlier this week where he met with senior Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry officials. He returned to France on Wednesday.
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Indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel scheduled to occur in Washington in late May were canceled as a consequence of the Israeli raid of the Turkish flotilla ship the Mavi Marmara, in which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told CNN that he was supposed to have met Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Washington to facilitate discussions with Syria, a move which had been approved by Damascus.
Israel and Syria held four indirect rounds of peace talks with Turkish mediation in 2008, but they were suspended following the resignation of then-prime minister Ehud Olmert in September of that year.
Syria said at the time of Operation Cast Lead that it ruled out a resumption of the indirect talks any time soon.
Syria wants an Israeli commitment to withdraw from the whole of the Golan Heights, the Syrian plateau that Israel conquered in the 1967 Six Day War.