Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mubarak relays message from Syria to Barak

Senior Israeli official confirms Egyptian president passed on message from Syria's Bashar Assad to visiting Israeli defense minister Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday gave visiting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak a message from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a senior Israeli defense ministry official said on Wednesday.

"Mubarak passed a message to Barak from the Syrian president," the official said on condition of anonymity after Barak returned to Israel following a day-long visit to Egypt. He did not elaborate.

Barak earlier told reporters that during his talks with Mubarak they had discussed several regional issues, including "Syria and Lebanon."

On Tuesday Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told visiting US lawmakers who were to visit Damascus later in the week that he was awaiting from Syria "a reply to Israeli peace overtures," another Israeli official said.

Over the past year, Israeli and Syrian leaders have both said they were open to restarting peace talks that

have been stalled for seven years.

Olmert said in mid-September that he was ready for "direct negotiations with Syria, without preconditions." That was a week after Israeli warplanes bombed a mysterious target deep inside Syrian territory, which media reports said could have been a storage site for nuclear material..

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