Assad rules out direct talks with Olmert
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday ruled out holding direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the sidelines of an international summit to be held in Paris next month. Assad and Olmert will be in Paris as guests of French President Nicolas Sarkozy who is to announce the launch of a new Mediterranean Union on July 13.
"This is not like drinking tea," Assad told reporters in New Delhi when asked about the possibility of direct talks between the two. "The meeting between me and the Israeli prime minister will be meaningless without technocrats, who are the experts, laying the foundation," said Assad who is on a four-day state visit to India.
"Only sending signals with no real result is meaningless," he was quoted as saying by AFP
Assad had said direct peace talks with Israel were unlikely before 2009.
Assad told reporters that Syria-Israel indirect talks and the Arab-brokered agreement last month in the Qatari capital Doha that led to the election of former army chief Michel Sleiman as Lebanese president "were positive changes" in the region.
On ties with the United States, the Syrian leader said his country was always looking for good relations with Washington. "But that does not mean we have to be puppets... the role of the US in the (Middle East) peace process is important. This (Bush) administration is not interested in peace. We have to wait for the next administration," he added.