PM: Now is the wrong time for talks with Syria

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told ministers at Sunday's cabinet meeting that now was not the time to take Syrian President Bashar Assad up on his overtures of peace. "We have to ask the question," Olmert said at the weekly cabinet meeting, "why is Assad making these declarations specifically today, after the publication of the Baker report in Washington and after President [George W.] Bush took a firm stance on the subject, and when the entire international community is demanding that the Syrians stop stirring up war and pitting its forces against the Saniora government in Lebanon? Is this right, when the whole international community seeks to put pressure on Khaled Mashaal in Syria?" The prime minister emphasized that before Israel begins developing new policies, "it is advisable to weigh things with restraint and caution."