'Land inseparable part of Syria talks'

In interview with Qatari newspaper, Livni hints at possibility of discussing Golan in future talks.

livni qatar 224.88 (photo credit: GPO)
livni qatar 224.88
(photo credit: GPO)
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday during an interview with the Qatari Tribune newspaper that "the discussion about land will be an inseparable part of negotiations with Syria." Livni is in Qatar to address the Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade as a keynote speaker. During the interview, Livni was asked about the possibility of Israel making concessions to Syria on the Golan Heights and responded by saying that she is "not interested in negotiating the specific conditions of any peace agreement but [is] able to indicate that Israel is interested in doing away with obstacles that stand in the way of peace." "Of course we understand that the issue of land will arise during the course of future talks with Syria," the foreign minister continued, "even when we are negotiating with [chief Palestinian negotiator] Ahmed Qurei, we are speaking about land. Clearly land will be an inseparable part of negotiations with Syria as well." During the interview, Livni praised the efforts of Qatar in advancing a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Livni was expected to raise the issue of kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit during her talks in Qatar with Gulf state and other Arab officials during her three-day visit which began Sunday. An Israeli official said on Saturday that the foreign minister would also meet with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and her Qatari counterpart, who also serves as prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor al Thani. The official denied reports that any meetings were planned with Syrian representatives but confirmed that Livni would be meeting with other Arab foreign ministers while at the Doha meeting, which gathers together 600 government ministers, parliamentarians, business leaders, academics and journalists. A key aim during Livni's talks will be to strengthen the resolve of moderate Arab states against the Iranian nuclear program. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday in an interview with the Qatari newspaper Al-Watan that stopping Iran's nuclear program is in the shared interests of Israel and the Arab world. Israel and Qatar do not have diplomatic relations but the Gulf state established trade relations with Israel in 2005 when Ariel Sharon was prime minister. Israel has a commercial interests office in Doha manned by two diplomats, and representatives of both countries reportedly meet regularly. Last September, Qatar's emir met Livni in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. There were also unconfirmed reports that Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani in Switzerland, at the Davos Economic Forum earlier this year and that a senior Qatari figure visited Israel in January for talks concerning the possibility of a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas involving the release of Schalit. In his last months as vice premier, current President Shimon Peres paid a high-profile visit to the capital city of Doha. Peres also visited Qatar in 1996, when he launched the new Israeli embassy there.