'Lebanon will never negotiate with Israel - directly or indirectly'
Lebanese FM tells local media that Peres' claims that Hezbollah has stockpiled 80,000 rockets are 'lies.'
Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh said on Sunday that Beirut would never negotiate with Israel over the return of captured land, reiterating the government's stance that Lebanon would be the last Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Jerusalem.
"There will be neither direct nor indirect negotiations with Israel,? Salloukh told The Daily Star of Lebanon. "Israel should have withdrawn [from captured territory] from the first minute of Resolution 1701. They should implement all UN resolutions." The Lebanese official was referring to the resolution which brought a cease-fire in the 2006 Lebanon war.
Salloukh also said deemed President Shimon Peres' assertions that Hezbollah has stockpiled some 80,000 rockets as "lies."
"I don't know how he counted these rockets," Salloukh told The Daily Star of Lebanon. "Let them [Israel] give us a list showing who the source is and how they identify these rockets. [Peres] imagines too much."
Peres said in an interview published in Kuwaiti daily Al Rai on Sunday that Israel "knows that Hezbollah has 80,000 rockets."
He stressed, however, that Israel had no interest in going to war with Lebanon, and that all differences between Syria, Lebanon and Israel could be solved by negotiations
The president also accused Hezbollah of ruining Lebanon.
"Lebanon wanted to be the region's Switzerland, and instead is turning into Iran. We don't seek any political role in Lebanon and in the past we had a good relationship with all of its faith groups."
Peres went on to say that Israel is ready to resume negotiations with Palestinians, with the sole contention being the issue of natural growth construction in the settlements.
"There will be a land swap with the Palestinians, but not a population swap. We have no intention in intervening in the question of citizenship for Palestinian refugees in Arab states."
He also used the interview to invite Syrian President Bashar Assad to negotiate with Israel.
"Why does he fear talking to us or meeting us? Assad cannot demand any preconditions, because then we'll have preconditions."
Peres suggested the negotiations could be run without third-party mediation. "He can come to Jerusalem, or we could go to Damascus," the president said.
The president said he supported an international peace summit with the Arab states, but that "all sides had to give up something. You can't just have one side giving. I'm willing to go by air, land, sea, even to swim, to achieve peace."