Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
Baker calls Bush ‘ridiculous’ on Syria JTA News, 09/16/2008
The Bush administration’s refusal to deal with Syria is “ridiculous,” James Baker, a former U.S. secretary of state, said.
Five former secretaries of state met Monday under the auspices of CNN to discuss what advice they would give the next president.
“I would advise the president to fully engage with Syria,” said Baker, who as secretary of state under Bush’s father helped convene the 1991 Madrid talks, which for the first time brought Israelis, Palestinians, Syrians and other Arab nations into the same process. “I think it is ridiculous for us to say we’re not going to talk to Syria and yet Israel has been talking to them for six to eight months.”
The Bush administration has discouraged Israel’s talks with Syria, currently held under Turkish auspices. Israel wants to draw Syria away from the Iranian sphere; the Bush administration says it will not engage Syria until it fully disengages from Lebanon and stops its support for terrorist groups.
Also appearing at the session were Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher, who served under President Bill Clinton; Colin Powell, who served under the current President Bush; and Henry Kissinger, who served under presidents Nixon and Ford.
Olmert warns of binational state if no peace deal reached
By Shahar Ilan and Barak Ravid
With regard to talks with Syria, Olmert said “when there is a price and in return the disengagement of Syria from the axis of evil, the question is whether it is worth paying the price.” Banging on the table to emphasize his point, Olmert said “the answer is yes.” He added that a “responsible government will arrive at my answer, and an irresponsible government will reach opposite answers.”
Olmert told the committee that if Israel could reach an agreement with Syria, it could also reach an agreement with Lebanon, despite risks, which a strong government could take upon itself.