Lebanon rejects Olmert proposal of peace talks

Statement claims Israel must withdraw from "occupied land" before peace can be considered.

lebanon president 224.88 (photo credit:)
lebanon president 224.88
(photo credit: )
Lebanon will not act in line with Syria and begin holding peace talks with Israel, according to a Reuters report Wednesday. Instead, the caretaker Lebanese government stated that Israel must withdraw from what Beirut views as "occupied" areas. The UN, however, determined even before the Second Lebanon War that the area in question, the Sheba Farms, is Syrian territory and, as a result, Israel has already complied with its international obligation to withdraw from Lebanon. The Lebanese statement came in response to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's comments on Tuesday that he hoped that along with peace talks with Syria, similar dialogue with Lebanon could be opened. The Reuters report quoted the Lebanese statement as saying that Israel must withdraw from Lebanese land, return Lebanese prisoners and provide maps of land-mines and cluster bombs used in the past decades of war in the region. Only then, the statement said, could a "truce agreement" be reached. Meanwhile last week, a Turkish official reported that the indirect Israel-Syria talks would begin this week in Turkey and be held on a regular basis. Olmert's chief of staff and his foreign policy adviser are set to head the Israeli delegation and a Syrian legal expert will represent Damascus. Herb Keinon contributed to this report