Turkey: Assad won't accept French mediation

Assad wont accept Fren

A day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his country was ready to facilitate a resumption of talks between Syria and Israel, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that although Israel no longer trusts Turkey to mediate the talks, Damascus would not accept Paris's role. "On this issue (of mediation), Israel's stance is that it doesn't trust us," Erdogan told a press conference in Rome. "Former Israeli prime minister Olmert trusted Turkey, but [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu doesn't trust us. That's his choice," he said, according to a Reuters translation. "Now France is trying to take up the role we had," Erdogan added. "I'm not sure what kind of stance [Syrian President] Bashar Assad will take, but from what I've heard from him, they're not going to accept something like this." Also referring to the Israel-Syria track, brought up during Netanyahu's visit to Paris last week, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner stressed that contrary to reports, the Israeli premier had not put the Golan Heights on the table. "Of course we must discuss it though," he said. "It has already been the subject of many discussions." Kouchner said talks can continue "between Israel and France, and between Syria and France." "Turkey until now was an important mediator, and we're prepared to play a role alongside or without the Turks, or in coordination with another party," he said.