'Current US gov't beneficial to Israel'

Olmert says next US administration is an unknown; says Israel should hold talks with Lebanese gov't.

Olmert cabinet 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Olmert cabinet 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Speaking to government ministers about the status of peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that progress in the area was critically important given the proximity of the US presidential elections. "One thing is certain: this administration is especially friendly," the prime minister said during the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday. "We cannot miss taking advantage of this opportunity. Therefore the element of time holds special importance. We must not lose this. [Things won't necessarily be the same] with the next government." "We are working with the aim of advancement," Olmert assured. "We don't yet have formal, written documents, but we're working with the intent of making progress towards building a foundation for a solution, within the framework of the time frame we presented. Of course there are arguments, long discussions, but this issue is important for me." "We don't know what will happen with the next US government," Olmert told the ministers. "I am running with the assumption that every American president will preserve the special friendship, that was built on mutual values and on mutual interests." Moving onto a different diplomatic front, the prime minister told the cabinet that indirect talks with Syria were continuous, and that he and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have held many conversations on the topic. He added that in addition to negotiations with the Palestinians and Syria, he would be happy if Israel could start peace talks with Lebanon. "I would be very happy if the Lebanese government would announce its interest in direct, bilateral talks with Israel - I see this as having many advantages," he said.