Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel was prepared for peace negotiations with Syria under the right conditions but refused to answer questions Monday about a widely reported Israeli air attack in northern Syria.
Olmert made his comments to a group of Russian-language reporters, Israeli media reported.
One of the reporters told Army Radio that Olmert was trying to send a calming message to Syria. However, she said, he refused to answer questions about the reported Israeli air attack.
Israel has not commented on the incident since Syria cryptically announced it earlier this month, saying its air space had been entered and that Israel had “dropped munitions.” Syria has offered no evidence of any Israeli attack.
“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 by the Haaretz daily.
Olmert has made the same offer of peace talks many times in the past, but this was the first time he has mentioned Syria since the reported airstrike. In 2000, Israel-Syria talks neared agreement but broke down over final border and peace arrangements.
“As I’ve said in the past, we want to make peace with everyone,” Olmert said in the Monday meeting, according to the paper. “If the conditions ripen, we are ready to make peace with Syria, with no preconditions and no ultimatums.”