Lebanese President Emile Lahoud has rejected an offer made by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to meet with Arab officials without preconditions to discuss peace.
During a speech to Israel’s Parliament Monday, Prime Minister Sharon said he was willing to meet “the moderate and responsible leaders of the Middle East … anywhere, without preconditions from either side” to talk about peace.
He stated that an Arab initiative calling for Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories in exchange for comprehensive peace had “positive elements.” However, he added that Israel would not be able to accept Palestinian refugees.
In a statement released later on, Lahoud termed Sharon’s offer as a “vicious maneuver aimed at deceiving the international community on the eve of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s tour in the region.”
Lahoud said Sharon’s offer “was in stark contradiction to international (United Nations) resolutions, especially 194, 242, 338 and 425”, Lebanon’s The Daily Star reported. (Albawaba.com)