updated 10/16/2006 12:04:45 PM ET 2006-10-16T16:04:45

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday invited the Lebanese prime minister to begin peace talks following Israel’s recent war against Hezbollah guerrillas, but he ruled out such negotiations with Syria.

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 Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora to enter peace talks, saying the time has passed for indirect mediation between the nations.

There was no immediate reaction from Beirut. But after the war, Saniora rejected similar calls by Olmert, saying that Lebanon would “be the last Arab country that could sign a peace agreement with Israel.”

In a speech to parliament, Olmert rejected such talks with Syria for now, saying President Bashar Assad must halt its support for Palestinian militant groups.

He also dismissed the Syrian leader’s calls for negotiations.

Syria hosts the top leaders of Hamas, the ruling Palestinian political party, which is committed to Israel’s destruction.

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