A mini Middle East peace summit has ended tonight

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A mini Middle East peace summit has ended tonight

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A mini Middle East peace summit has ended with France offering to play a key role in any future direct talks between Syria and Israel.

Turkey is already mediating indirect negotiations.

Its Prime Minister travelled to Damascus for the gathering alongside leaders from Qatar and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Their host said he welcomed the offer of help.

“President Sarkozy is very enthusiastic about France and Europe having an active role in the peace process,” he said.

“There is no doubt that France will have a major role in the direct negotiation stage.”

Sarkozy wants Syria to urge its ally Iran to co-operate over its nuclear activities. Western powers say the programme could be used to develop atomic weapons.

“As Iran is wasting a lot of time and as we want peace, we must use all channels to persuade Iran to renounce a strategy that could prove very dangerous – thinking time is working to their advantage.”

As for Syria’s talks with its long-time foe, political upheaval in Israel looks to be hampering progress, with the next round of indirect negotiations postponed, according to Bashar al-Assad.