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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

ISRAEL EYES LEBANON AS POSSIBLE PEACE PARTNER



Israeli Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom suggested that Israel may establish diplomatic channels with Lebanon if the Lebanese government imposes law and order in the war-torn south and disarms the Shi’ite terror group Hizbullah.
In the long run, Shalom said Lebanon and Israel may enter peace talks, which is Israel’s goal, according to the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayyat.

Shalom’s remarks were made after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution last week condemning Syria's continued interference in neighboring Lebanon, though it did not mention Syria by name. Syria has some 15,000 troops stationed in Lebanon.

The resolution was submitted a day before Lebanon made a Syrian-backed amendment to its constitution that allows the incumbent president Emile Lahoud, who has Damascus’s support, to remain in office for an additional three years.

Shalom said there is no disagreement between Israel and Lebanon and that if Lebanon was a free state with international backing and negotiated with Israel, he does not think anything should stop the two countries from reaching an agreement.