Officials dismiss Lebanese threats

New president Michel Suleiman threatens to wrest control of part of Shaba Farms militarliy.

suleiman paris 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
suleiman paris 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
PARIS - Israeli officials dismissed as "inexperience" bellicose remarks Sunday by new Lebanese President Michel Suleiman that, if necessary, the Lebanese army would take the Shaba Farms/Mount Dov area by force. Suleiman, in a press conference on the sidelines of the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, said the Lebanese military would use force to retake the area if diplomacy failed. He stressed, however, that the military option was the last resort. Israel conquered Mount Dov from Syria in the Six Day War. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini last week that Israel was ready to discuss the Mount Dov issue with the Lebanese in direct negotiations. Suleiman's comments, one diplomatic source said, "show that he has no diplomatic experience." Another government official said Israel was willing to hold direct talks with Lebanon on all issues of contention on the table, with the hope of solving them "through dialogue and not by threatening each other." Also at the Paris summit, Syrian President Bashir Assad said Lebanon had an important role to play in the Middle East peace process and that any progress in future Israel-Lebanon negotiations would be made in coordination with Syria.