Olmert interested in peace talks with Syria

Jerusalem, Sep 18 (Xinhua) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that Israel is interested in holding peace talks with Syria under the right conditions, local daily Ha’aretz reported.

Olmert made the remark Monday during a meeting with Russian reporters at his Jerusalem residence nearly two weeks after media reports about an alleged Israeli aircraft incursion into Syrian airspace began circulating.

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“I have a lot of respect for the Syrian leader and for Syrian policy. They have internal problems, but we have no reason to rule out dialogue with Syria,” Olmert was quoted as saying.

“As I’ve said in the past, we want to make peace with everyone,” the prime minister said, adding “if the conditions ripen, we are ready to make peace with Syria, with no preconditions and no ultimate demands.”

Since the reports about Israeli planes flying in Syrian airspace and possibly attacking targets in its territory, both Damascus and Jerusalem have kept quiet on the matter.

This week’s London-based Sunday Times quoted an Israeli source as saying the strike came in the wake of intelligence reports suggesting Syria has been planning a “devastating surprise” for Israel.

The report also claimed that Israeli ground forces were involved in the attack on a Syrian installation, which foreign sources described as a nuclear facility.

The British weekly also quoted the Israeli source as saying that planning for the strike, which the US allegedly backed, began shortly after Mossad chief Meir Dagan presented Olmert in late spring with evidence that Syria was seeking to acquire a nuclear device from North Korea.