Lebanon rejects Israeli call for peace talks
Lebanon dismissed on Wednesday a call by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for peace talks and demanded that Israel withdraw from disputed territory along their international borders. "There are pending bilateral issues between Lebanon and Israel which are governed by international resolutions which Israel must respect... and which cannot be the object of political negotiations," a government statement said, according to AFP.
"Israel... must respect Lebanon's sovereignty over its territory and its water, release prisoners and provide maps on mines and cluster bombs" strewn in Lebanon during past conflicts, it said.
On Tuesday, the Israeli prime minister suggested holding peace talks with Lebanon, following last month's announcement of indirect, Turkish-mediated negotiations with Syria. "I see many advantages in this," a senior Israeli official quoted Olmert as saying in a cabinet meeting.
Israel captured a 25-square-kilometre area of land on the Israel-Lebanon-Syria border as part of the Syrian Golan Heights during the 1967 War and later annexed it along with the rest of the strategic plateau. Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora reiterated the government claim to the territory in a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice late on Wednesday, his office said.
The Lebanese prime minister asked Rice to "put pressure on Israel to withdraw from the Shebaa Farms and place the territory under UN administration pending a demarcation of the border between Syria and Lebanon," it said.