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Israel says ready to swap Golan Heights for peace with Syria

DAMASCUS, April 23 (RIA Novosti) -- Israel has agreed to withdraw from the Golan Heights as part of a peace deal with Syria, a national daily said quoting "knowledgeable sources" on Wednesday.

Al Watan reported that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has agreed in principle to a Turkish plan for renewed peace talks between Jerusalem and Syria.

The prime minister informed his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that Israel would make a full withdrawal from the area in return for peace with Syria.

According to Shams-Press, a Syrian news website, the negotiations hinge on Israel's willingness to return the Golan Heights to Syria.

Erdogan is expected to visit the Syrian capital over the weekend and take part in a first-of-its-kind economic summit between Syria and Turkey.

Olmert expressed a willingness to resume talks with Syria that stalled in 2000, but on the condition that Damascus first dissociate itself from Palestinian terrorist groups, Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said peace talks will only be possible if Israel accepts his demand for a full return of the Golan Heights, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Six Day War.

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