Saniora snubs Olmert's call for talks

After meeting Annan, PM expressed hope cease-fire would be start of new era.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Lebanon will not have direct contact with Israel, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said on Wednesday. According to Saniora, "Lebanon will be the last Arab country that would sign a peace agreement with Israel." "Let it be clear, we are not seeking any agreement until there is just and comprehensive peace based on the Arab initiative," he said. Saniora was responding to comments made earlier by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in which the latter expressed hope that the UN cease-fire deal would be the "cornerstone of the start of new relations with Lebanon." "We hope conditions will rapidly change to enable direct contacts with the government of Lebanon," Olmert said during a press conference with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan after the two met in the prime minister's Jerusalem office. Saniora added that he believed the Israeli air and sea blockade of his country could be lifted "in the next few days." Saniora told a news conference that he believed Annan, who visited Lebanon on Tuesday, was "sincere" in his efforts to lift the blockade, which Israel imposed early in its 34-day war with Hizbullah. He said all efforts to lift the siege on Lebanon's airport and seaports could bear fruit and "that in the next few days the blockade will be lifted." Israel has said the blockade was to prevent Hizbullah from rearming. Lebanon has demanded the siege be lifted and has called on the United States to intervene. Saniora said that while he was in Beirut, Annan "felt and realized what humiliation for the Lebanese the blockade was."