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Pakistan says Israel talks will give it Mideast role

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  • Joseph M. Hochstein
    Reuters Sept. 2, 2005 Pakistan says Israel talks will give it Mideast role http://channels.netscape.com/ns/news/story.jsp?id=2005090206170002369217
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2005
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      Reuters
      Sept. 2, 2005

      Pakistan says Israel talks will give it Mideast role
      http://channels.netscape.com/ns/news/story.jsp?id=2005090206170002369217
      &dt=20050902061700&w=RTR&coview=

      Dubai, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Pakistan on Friday defended holding its first
      public talks with Israel, saying the move would allow it to take an
      active role in helping resolve the Middle East conflict.

      "Since there is no fundamental change in our position on the need for a
      viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, I'm sure the
      people of Pakistan will understand this," said Pakistani Foreign
      Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri.

      "This will provide diplomatic space for Pakistan," Kasuri told reporters
      during a stopover in Dubai. "Whenever you take a new step, of course it
      is bound to ruffle some feathers."

      A main Pakistani Islamic opposition alliance has vowed to protest on
      Friday against Kasuri's meeting on Thursday with his Israeli counterpart
      in Turkey.

      "Frankly (secret) contacts have been going on for decades, but we wanted
      to send a signal to the Israeli government and people that the
      assumption that Islamic countries cannot live in peace with the Jewish
      state is not correct, if Israel were to vacate occupied territory,"
      Kasuri said.

      "We felt that withdrawal from Gaza was an important enough event for us
      to do something ... to encourage this process," he said. "Pakistan, as
      one of the leading Islamic countries in the world, should send that
      signal."

      "How can we play a (diplomatic) role if we are not even talking to one
      of the two parties? Egypt is playing a role ... because Egypt recognises
      Israel. We have not recognised Israel."

      Kasuri said Islamabad would only recognise Israel after Palestinians had
      reached a settlement with the Jewish state. Pakistani President Pervez
      Musharraf said on Thursday this would only come after a Palestinian
      state was created.

      Kasuri rejected Palestinian criticism of the talks, including by the
      militant Hamas group, saying Pakistan had acted after consultation with
      Palestinian leaders and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Islam's
      birthplace.

      Israel has full diplomatic ties with four major Muslim countries --
      Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Mauritania -- and limited interest or trade
      missions with Morocco, Tunisia and Qatar.

      Israel last month evacuated settlers from Gaza under Prime Minister
      Ariel Sharon's plan for "disengagement" from conflict with the
      Palestinians. But Sharon has said that Israel intends to keep large West
      Bank settlement blocs.
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