Informal Israel-Syrian letterbox operates in Azerbaijan

Israeli president Shimon Peres and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu have begun exchanging messages with Syrian president Bashar Assad through a new channel of communications opened in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, debkafile‘s diplomatic sources reveal. When Assad arrived in Baku Wednesday, July 8, he found a message from the two Israeli leaders waiting for him with the Azeri president Ilham Aliyev.
Assad’s reply is expected in Jerusalem after he flies out of Baku Thursday.
President Peres opened the backdoor channel to Assad and co-copted President Aliyev to the task of go-between when he visited Azerbaijan last week.
Our sources disclose that Baku is the hub of a complicated new negotiating track between Damascus and Jerusalem, in which the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon are also taking part. Peres, Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak represent Israel; the US Middle East envoy George Mitchell is acting for Barack Obama; Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman represents Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Assad is acting in person for Syria. His unannounced trip to Baku this week was part of the new initiative which also explains various trips and declarations by prominent figures in the last couple of days.
Tuesday, July 7, the Syrian president told visiting Germany foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that he sees no Israel peace partner at present, but his government nonetheless is continuing with the peace process.
This was an oblique reference to the Azeri channel.
The same day, Peres met Mubarak in Cairo to brief him on his talks with the Azeri president and the messages delivered to him from Assad. The next step was the arrival of the first Egyptian official visitors to Damascus after years of acrimony between the two rulers. Their mission was to try and merge the Israeli-Syrian track with Egypt’s efforts to broker reconciliation between warring Palestinian factions.
That day, too, Barak flew to London for talks with Mitchell. The communique they issued included a reference to peace talks between Israel, Lebanon and Syria as well as the Israeli-Palestinian process.
That sentence was another reference to the Azeri diplomatic postbox.

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