PAKISTAN, ISRAEL SHAKE HANDS
History was made in Istanbul on Thursday when Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri met his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom, in what is a first official meeting between the only two ideological states in the world. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoga facilitated the meeting. An announcement in this regard was made by Kasuri in Istanbul and the two foreign ministers hailed the breakthrough meeting — with Israel hoping that it would lead to the establishment of diplomatic ties — at a joint press briefing before shaking hands for news photographers with a smile.
Pakistan Foreign Minister disclosed he was in contact with his counterparts in other friendly countries of the region close to Israel or those who are directly concerned with the Palestinian issue about the breakthrough meeting. Giving the background of the meeting, he said during his visit last May, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had discussed with Musharraf how Pakistan could help with the peace process in view of the important position it enjoys internationally and within the Islamic world and how Pakistan could impress upon Israel the need for moving forward and respecting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.
President Musharraf said the Foreign Minister Khurseehd Kasuri’s meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom, was part of his government’s policy to move forward internationally as no country can live in isolation. The countries with vision perceive changes in advance and formulate their policies according to the changing world scenario.
Musharraf praised Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip as a positive step but said the aim of Thursday’s talks was to promote the Palestinian cause. He added that Pakistan’s move should not be misconstrued, and reiterated Pakistan’s long-held stance that diplomatic ties could only be considered once a Palestinian homeland is established. He said that a peace plan already exists and there is no need to have another and also there are UN resolutions on the issue. Some of our good friends have supported this gesture.
He praised the government of Turkey for facilitating the meeting. Israel upbeat Israel was enthusing greater hope in the meeting. Shalom said that he has informed the representatives of numerous Arab and Islamic states that Israel withdrawal from Gaza would be the right time for the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Shalom predicted more contacts with his Pakistani counterpart at this month’s annual UN General Assembly meeting. A foreign ministry spokesman stressed that Israel did not want any diplomatic breakthrough to damage ties with Pakistan’s arch-rival and neighbor India with whom Israel enjoys close relations.
This meeting is being termed as extremely significant and historic meeting and it is hoped that two ideological states will move further ahead towards the normalization of relations and will have the diplomatic ties soon. Shalom also praised the efforts and courage of President Musharraf in supporting peace between Israel and the Muslim World.
Israel currently has full diplomatic relations with only three Arab states — Mauritania, Egypt and Jordan — and a handful of Muslim majority states including Turkey.