Sleiman OKs regional, not Israeli, talks

March 19, 2009 at 1:28 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 19 (UPI) -- Lebanese President Michel Sleiman says he would support regional peace talks for the Middle East instead of direct talks with Israel.

Sleiman said his country would maintain its stance of avoiding direct talks with Israel and instead call for an international peace conference akin to the 1991 peace conference in Madrid, The Daily Star reported Thursday.

"We have always refused to hold direct talks with the Israelis. We have always said we would be prepared to accept a peace conference based on the Madrid conference and also on the international legal texts," Sleiman said Wednesday while visiting France.

The Lebanese head of state also said in an attempt to resolve the disputes between Israeli and Palestinian officials, he has asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy to become involved.

"I also invited President Sarkozy to work toward a global approach for the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And we have also called for that to happen within the framework of an international conference to which all the parties involved would be invited," Sleiman said.

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