Olmert makes brief visit for dinner and farewell .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;}

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will fly to Turkey for a farewell visit Monday, before the Israeli general elections set for February.

In a very brief trip that will last less than three hours, he will meet his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at a working dinner and leave the same day, said diplomatic sources.

The two leaders personally enjoy friendly ties and hold frequent telephone conversations despite the fact that Erdoğan's severe accusations of Israeli actions in Gaza strain bilateral relations from time to time, according to diplomats.

Indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria are expected to appear on the agenda of the Olmert-Erdoğan meeting but sources say it would not be realistic to expect another round of negotiations mediated by Turkey before the Israeli polls and before the new administration led by President-elect Barack Obama takes up office in the United States.

Israel and Syria have so far held four rounds of indirect negotiations under Turkish auspices but the talks made no significant headway, officials say. A fifth round scheduled for September in Istanbul had to be postponed at Israel's request, announced Syrian authorities previously.

Olmert remains Israel's caretaker prime minister until a new government is formed. The destiny of peace talks now rests with the incoming government that will enter office following the elections. Indirect negotiations with Syria may see a complete halt if conservative Likud Party's leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999, emerges as the winner, sources say.

Turkey's President Abdullah Gül was planning to visit Israel in January and address the country's parliament Knesset but the trip had to be cancelled due to his chronic ear problem that makes plane flights difficult. No new date has been set for the visit and it appears to have been delayed to post-election time in Israel, said the diplomats.

Meanwhile, Energy Minister Hilmi Güler met with Israel's Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer in Istanbul this week for talks on the strategic multi-purpose pipeline project known as MedStream, officials said.

The pipeline, if realized, will ship oil, natural gas and electricity from Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan to southern Israel and from there to a Red Sea port via the existing pipeline network to reach its final destination India.

Officials say both Turkey and Israel are enthusiastic to carry out the project but since India has become the latest party to join the partnership it is expected to take time for the country to weigh all the possibilities.

The search to secure the funding of the feasibility study of the pipeline is still ongoing, said officials. The parties concerned are seeking funds from the European Union's French-championed mechanism - the Union for the Mediterranean. The feasibility study of the project is estimated to cost around 8 million euros and expected to be complete within 10 months after securing of the necessary funding.