Peres urges Syria to open direct peace talks

President Shimon Peres on Thursday called on Syria to open direct peace talks with Israel, urging Damascus to drop its demand that negotiations take place through mediators. "If Syria wants true peace, there is no substitute for direct negotiations between it and Israel which will open with a meeting between the leaders and will symbolize mutual recognition, at the opening stage," Peres said at a meeting with China's Middle East envoy. Miri Eisin, spokeswoman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said Olmert had no problem with Peres's comments. "What he says specifically is the prime minister's stance," she said. Olmert has signaled he is ready to give up the Golan, but has not laid out a formal position," continued Eisin.