Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met on Tuesday with the visiting US Senator Arlen Specter and said Israel was still waiting for Syria to respond to its peace overtures. Specter, who is scheduled to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday, had offered to relay the message to Damascus.
Olmert said he remained serious in his intentions to scope out Syria's genuine willingness to further peace efforts. "Thus far I have yet to receive a clear answer from them, and I am still waiting," he said.
Sources within the prime minister's office were careful to clarify that the message was not a direct call to Assad but rather that Specter had inquired as to the status of the negotiations.
Specter met earlier in the day with Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni, who expressed Israel's concern over Syria's dominance over Lebanon in regards to the cross-border smuggling of arms.
Livni also urged the senator to use his influence to help advance efforts to secure the return of Israel's kidnapped soldiers.