Israel Invites Lebanese PM to Begin Peace Talks

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday invited the Lebanese prime minister to begin peace talks following Israel's recent war against Hezbollah guerrillas, but Olmert ruled out peace talks with Syria at the present time, saying President Bashar Assad isn't a suitable negotiating partner.

CountryWatch: Israel

Olmert said Assad must halt its support for Palestinian militant groups before the two nations can hold peace talks and dismissed the Syrian leader's calls for negotiations as a "negotiating tactic." Syria hosts the top leaders of Hamas, the ruling Palestinian political party, which is committed to Israel's destruction.

Olmert said that Israel made significant gains in its battle against the Lebanese guerrilla group. Olmert has been heavily criticized for his handling of the war, in which Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into Israel.

Olmert called on Lebanon's prime minister, Fuad Saniora, to enter peace talks, saying the time has passed for indirect mediation between the nations.

He made the proposal in a speech at the opening of parliament's winter session.