Israel Invites Lebanon to Talks

Disputed sliver along border on table; offer follows Rice visit to region
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2008 2:06 PM CDT
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, second left, talks with Lebanese prime Minister Fuad Saniora, right, at the Lebanese government palace Monday in Beirut   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Israel today invited the Lebanese government to direct negotiations, adding that it would be willing to discuss all issues, including a long-disputed area along their border, the New York Times reports. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who visited both nations earlier this week, is attempting to use negotiation over Shabaa Farms to kick-start wider talks.

The diplomatic push comes after a political agreement last week gave Hezbollah expanded powers within mainstream Lebanese politics. The organization has used Israel’s occupation of Shabaa Farms as justification for keeping its weapons. Israeli officials worry that if the land is returned, Hezbollah will simply pick another controversy to justify its militancy.