Special Report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts
BEIRUT, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Lebanese President Michel Suleiman rejected the French call to hold bilateral talks with Israel, local As-Safier daily reported on Thursday.
The Lebanese president returned Wednesday night to Beirut following a three-day official visit to Paris where he held talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Prime Minister Franois Fillon.
"France asked Lebanon to engage in bilateral and direct negotiations with Israel, but we said we do not agree on bilateral talks," Suleiman told a press conference in Paris before he left back Wednesday night.
Suleiman said Lebanon would take part in any "international conference aimed at reaching comprehensive and just peace," adding that this would be based on international resolutions, Madrid conference and unconditional implementation of the Arab peace initiative.
He revealed, however, that he stressed during talks with French officials that "there would be no Middle East deal on the expense of Lebanon, or, in contradiction with Arab nation's interest.
Syria and Lebanon are the two Arab countries that still have territories occupied by Israel, Syrian President Bashar Assad, however, said in February that Syria would hold direct talks with Israel. Syria and Israel have been engaged with Turkish sponsored indirect talks.
The Lebanese president was also reported to have asked his French counterpart to help in implementing UN resolution 1701, which Israel has been violating, according to the paper.