Lebanon denies Israeli handshake

Confusion surrounds a reported handshake between sworn enemies Israel and Lebanon.

    Shalom says the 'handshake' took place at an event in Tunis

    According to the office of Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom he shook the hand of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud at a recent diplomatic event in Tunis.

    Lahoud's office, however, denies the event ever took place, saying the account was "based on imagination".

    It also rejected a media report that his wife, Andree Lahoud, spoke with Shalom's wife, Judy Nir-Mozes, on the sidelines of the conference.

    According to the Israeli foreign ministry account, Shalom was standing near Lahoud as he shook the hands of dignitaries standing close by at a function the Tunisian government put on for delegates to a UN conference, foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.

    State of war

    "We do not relate any diplomatic importance to this," Regev said, adding that the handshake - whether or not it took place - did not herald any moves towards peace talks with Lebanon.

    Lebanon and Israel are in a state of war and the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

    Israel occupied a strip of south Lebanon for 22 years until its withdrawal in 2000.

    Beirut says Israel continues to occupy a small area of land on Mount Hermon.

    Only three Arab states - Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania - have full diplomatic relations with Israel.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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