Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will ask visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy to help launch direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Beirut.
Sarkozy is scheduled to touch down in Israel with wife Carla Bruni on Sunday afternoon for a formal visit in celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary as the guest of President Shimon Peres.
After having said he is keen to begin direct peace talks with Lebanon, Olmert is expected to ask Sarkozy to wield France's long-standing influence in Beirut to advance the initiative over dinner at the prime minister's Jerusalem residence.
Israel, Olmert will tell Sarkozy, believes that as it is currently pursuing peace agreements with both Syria and the Palestinian Authority, there is no reason not to engage Lebanon as well.
"The points of contention between us and Lebanon are smaller than those with the Syrians and certainly with the Palestinians," Olmert reportedly plans to say.
Olmert will, however, present Sarkozy with three conditions for the negotiations: direct talks between the two governments, the full implementation of UN Resolution 1701 – including the cessation of arms smuggling by Hizbullah via Syria, and the implementation of Resolution 1680 – which says the border
between Syria and Lebanon should be determined (as this matter pertains to future negotiations over the fate of the Shebaa Farms).
Sarkozy visited Lebanon earlier this month and met with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora as well as with newly elected President Michel Suleiman and Hizbullah leader Mohammad Raed.
Olmert and Sarkozy will also discuss the possibility of a historic meeting between the Israeli PM and Syrian President Bashar Assad in Paris at an upcoming summit scheduled to be held in July in the French capital. Assad has yet to reply to the invitation.