Livni calls Abbas a 'partner' in obtaining Shalit's release

After meeting Abbas, Livni warns not to expect dramatic results from talks.

By MICHAL LANDO
September 18, 2006 23:23
2 minute read.
Livni calls Abbas a 'partner' in obtaining Shalit's release

livni rice 298. (photo credit: AP)

 
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In a meeting late Monday evening, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni made headway in reopening dialogue with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Livni said the meeting was "positive" and focused both on "immediate" and more long-term issue. "It is agreed upon and clear that the process in which we find ourselves, is a bilateral process and will be based on the road map," Livni said following her meeting with Abbas. More than anything the meeting Monday night signaled the possibility of renewed dialogue. "I don't see this as one meeting and each side checks off a box and goes home," Livni said. "The idea is to establish a permanent channel of dialogue." Regarding the long-awaited release of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in June, there seemed to be little concrete progress. "From our perspective, of course the demand to release Gilad Shalit is critical, and it should happen immediately," Livni said. And though it may not be as urgent for the Palestinians, Livni said Abbas is "partner to it." At an earlier meeting Monday between Livni and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Rice said both the prisoners in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories "should be released unconditionally," according to the Associated Press. Asked about an offer from Gen. Michel Aoun to provide his good offices for the release of the Israeli and Lebanese soldiers, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan, noted that Annan's "efforts remain focused on supporting the work of his facilitator." Annan appointed a "facilitator" last week to assist in the release of Israeli and Lebanese prisoners. For that facilitator, who remains anonymous, to be effective, the spokesman said Annan wants his work to be "as much below the radar as possible." Dujarric said the facilitator's work was focused on the Israel-Lebanon prisoner issues, although it should not, he said, be read as a lack of concern for the other prisoners, namely Shalit and Palestinian prisoners. Regarding the formation of a unity government with Hamas, Livni said she didn't "deal with the question of the creation of coalitions, especially when they are not in Israel." Livni stressed the importance that the Palestinians and the international community stand behind Israel's demands. The three demands are that the Palestinian Authority must recognize Israel's right to exist, act against terrorism and accept previous agreements. "From our perspective, it is a process of demands that will allow us to return to the point we were at," Livni said. "Because basically Hamas wants to return Israel to where we were in '47, which is not acceptable to us nor to the international community."

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