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President Barack Obama once stated that when dealing with the Middle East, we must recognize we've got to have an over-arching strategy recognizing that all these issues are connected. In other words, progress in one part of the region will facilitate advances in another. And progress begins with dialogue.

In May of 2008, Israel and Syria publicly announced their participation in indirect peace negotiations mediated by Turkey. The two neighbors and some-time adversaries released a statement by which they declared their intention to hold the negotiations in good faith and openly, and hold a serious and continuous dialogue in order to reach a comprehensive peace deal in accordance with the framework set at the (1991) Madrid Conference. In all, four rounds of indirect talks between Syria and Israel took place over the course of the past year.

Syria suspended negotiations on December 28th, 2008 in response to Israel's military campaign on Hamas' home bases in Gaza. Israel had started its military offensive in late-December 2008 in response to rocket attacks by Hamas radicals on Israeli civilian targets. Nonetheless, it is time for Syria and Israel to resume their negotiations.

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The United States strongly supports peace negotiations between Israel and Syria. The importance of this track of the peace effort cannot be overstated, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Peace between Syria and Israel, the normalization of relations, is something that would be a part of an agenda of a comprehensive peace effort.

There needs to be peace between Israel and Syria, said U.S. State Department Acting Spokesman Robert Wood at a recent press briefing. We have an interest in seeing peace in the region, and we think it's important that all the parties work toward that goal. . . .The two parties need to sit down and resolve their differences. That's in the interest of the international community.

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