Accessibility links

Israel Has Made No Commitments to Syria on Peace Agreement, says Olmert

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he has made no promises to Syria about a future peace agreement but it is clear what each side must do.

Mr. Olmert made the comments Monday during a closed-door parliamentary session. He was quoted by officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Israel and Syria announced last week that they are holding indirect peace talks mediated by Turkey, eight years after negotiations collapsed over the extent of an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

Mr. Olmert on Sunday described his government's talks with Syria as responsible and serious. He did not comment on reports that he is prepared to return the Golan to Syria in a peace deal.

Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai says the negotiations with Syria are a mistake. He says they give legitimacy to Syria even though it is still aligned with Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, Iran's official news agency, IRNA, says Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for closer defense ties with Syria.

The Iranian leader spoke Monday during talks with visiting Syria's Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani.

The two sides reaffirmed their strong ties on Sunday, days after Israel called on Syria to distance itself from Iran and cut ties with Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas -- groups supported by Tehran.

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says Israel is in no position to set conditions for returning the Golan Heights to Syria. Israel captured the strategic plateau during the 1967 war.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.