Israel's president extends additional invitation to Assad to visit Jerusalem for talks
Israeli ceremonial president Moshe Katzav on Tuesday reiterated his invitation to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to visit Jerusalem and hold direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions.
Katzav also called for the resumption of talks with the Palestinians and restated his proposal to address the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Ramallah.
The Israeli president offered Damascus peace negotiations in "secret or public, anywhere and without pre-conditions," in an interview with Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television.
Earlier, on Monday, Katzav invited Assad to visit Jerusalem, but Syria rejected the invitation as "not serious".
The invitation followed "recent declarations from Syria" and was aimed at "testing the real intentions of Syria about making peace with Israel," Katzav told Al-Jazeera.
"The Syrian president must prove his intentions are serious and that he wants peace." Katsav said he wanted to "encourage" al-Assad "to act in public because he has not opted for secret channels."
Furthermore, Katzav said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had assured him "he is ready to launch negotiations with Syria without pre-conditions."
In addition, Katsav called on Damascus to "end its support for Hizbullah in Lebanon and not to shelter Palestinian factions."
Meanwhile, in reaction to Katzav's interview with the satellite channel, Syrian MP Sabar Balchut told Al Jazeera that Katzav's call was not sincere. According to the parliament member, it was made to "cover Israeli aggression". (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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