A close associate of Syrian President Bashar Assad on Saturday said the media reports of progress in peace talks between Israel and Syria are inaccurate and detrimental to any real effort at negotiations.

In a statement quoted in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al anbaa Dr. Samir Taki, a member of Assad's negotiating team, said the contentious issues of water, security, borders and normalization of relations have been discussed. However, Tarki added, discussions were still in their preliminary stages and have yet to produce any long-term agreements.

This statement contradicts Friday's report in the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat, which quotes a Syrian official close to the negotiations saying that Israel and Syria were in their latest round of indirect talks.

The official added that direct negotiations could begin in the near future, due to will exhibited by both sides.