Israel dismisses apparent Syrian offer to resume peace talks ''without conditions''
Earlier Wednesday, UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he is ready to restart negotiations with Israel "without conditions," "President Assad had reiterated to me today that he has an outstretched hand to his Israeli counterpart, that he is willing to go to the table without conditions," Roed-Larsen said after talks with the Syrian leader.
"This is very encouraging because we in the UN do not believe that there will be a lasting peace unless there is a comprehensive peace. We have to address all the tracks in the Middle East peace process," he said, according to AFP.
Roed-Larsen met both Assad and Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara in Damascus.
Before Larsen's comments were published, Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said Syria was a source of regional "instability and extremism." Speaking following his meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Shalom said "The international community must also redouble its efforts to confront the other sources of instability and extremism in our region - namely the ongoing terrorist threat of Hizbullah and the dangerous policies of its sponsors - Syria and Iran. Hizbullah - under the guidance of Iran and Syria - has become a key force behind Palestinian terrorism, and the desire to undermine any possibility of peace in this region."
"At the same time, Syria continues to occupy Lebanon - against the express demands of the Security Council."