Livni: 'Train is on the right tracks'

Vows upcoming talks will deal with core issues; says by attending summit, Syria took step away from Iran.

Livni graceful 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Livni graceful 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
"The Annapolis summit was successful… the train is now on the right tracks," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday evening, soon after landing in Israel from the US. In an interview with Army Radio, Livni expressed her satisfaction with the joint statement agreed upon minutes before US President George Bush's opening speech at the conference. "There was a time when the Palestinians thought the declaration should relate to core issues, which would have tied our hands. In my opinion, this would have been incorrect. We both therefore decided to make a joint statement vowing to start negotiations," she said. She reiterated that the talks due to start on December 12 would deal with all core issues, including Jerusalem. "It is no secret that in previous talks we agreed that future negotiations would deal with all the core issues," she said, adding that declaring Israel's position on these issues at the summit would have put Israel in a tactically weak position. With regard to coalition members' threats to leave the government if core issues were discussed, Livni said that as negotiations progress, "everyone will have to decide on their final stances." Livni downplayed the goal for a peace deal of the end of 2008, mentioned in the joint declaration. "We cannot negotiate according to a time limit. We will make every effort to meet this goal but if we don't reach a deal by then, we will continue negotiating." The foreign minister said talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would be conducted with the aim of "separating the moderates from the extremists," which she said was one of the goals, and successes, of the Annapolis parley. On that note, Livni said Syria's presence at the conference was "very positive," and "a step away from Iran." Nevertheless, the foreign ministry refused to confirm or deny President Shimon Peres's claim that Israel had been conducting secret talks with Syria. As the Foreign Ministry had done moments earlier, Livni denied she had called on Arab delegates at Annapolis to stop treating her "as a pariah."