Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert could meet on the sidelines of a summit in Paris next month, a senior aide to President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday.
The two leaders are expected in Paris at a summit of European and Mediterranean countries on July 13 and there has been speculation that they may meet on the sidelines.
"We see now Mr Olmert is suggesting that the summit of the 13th could be an opportunity for direct contacts," Sarkozy's chief of staff, Claude Gueant told Europe 1 radio.
"I don't know if that will be the case but in any case there is much at stake and it is France's role as a peacemaker to try to ensure that it works," he said.
Israeli political sources said this week that Olmert was offering to meet Assad in Paris.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said on Tuesday Israel and Syria would hold a new round of indirect peace talks mediated by Turkey in July after two earlier rounds of indirect talks ended successfully.
The last direct talks -- between then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara -- stalled in 2000 in a dispute over how much of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in a 1967 war, should go back to Syria.
France's relations with Syria, long troubled, have warmed recently but there has been controversy over an invitation to Assad to the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14.
Gueant confirmed that Assad would be in Paris for the summit but he said it was unsure whether the Syrian leader would join other summit participants at the Bastille Day parade.
Last Mod: 18 Haziran 2008, 17:00