Livni: Syria must end support of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday that Syria must distance itself from Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iran, if peace negotiations with Damascus are to succeed, reported dpa.
"Israel has always striven for peace with its neighbours, but the Syrians have to understand that that involves their absolute shaking off of their support for terror, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran," Livni told reporters before meeting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Tel Aviv.
In a dramatic joint announcement from Damascus, Jerusalem and Ankara Wednesday, the parties revealed that Israel and Syria have begun indirect peace negotiations under Turkish mediation, for the first time in eight years.
Livni was to raise with Kouchner the issue of meetings held between a retired senior French diplomat with officials of the radical Islamic Hamas movement, her spokesman, Arieh Mekel, said.
"She'll want to hear France's position on this and she will explain Israel's position on this," Mekel told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
Israel boycotts Hamas because the group ruling Gaza has refused to recognize its right to exist, accept past interim peace deals calling for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and renounce violence.
It has nevertheless held indirect talks with the movement under Egyptian mediation on a possible truce, but Hamas said Friday that the talks have reached a deadlock over Israel's refusal to end its tight blockade of the Gaza Strip as part of the truce.
Livni would discuss the "latest events in Gaza" with Kouchner, as well as the peace negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Iran's nuclear programme and the crisis in Lebanon, Mekel said.