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Aziz briefs more Arab leaders on contact with Israel

September 08, 2005

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ISLAMABAD, Sept 7: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Wednesday continued with his ‘telephone diplomacy’ on Pakistan’s engagement with Israel, and briefed leaders of three Arab countries — Egypt, Jordan and Syria — on the Kasuri-Shalom meeting in Istanbul last week.

On Sunday the prime minister had talked to the Turkish and Lebanese leadership on the subject.

“Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had telephone conversation with Dr Adnan Badran, Prime Minister of Jordan; Mohammad Naji Otri, Prime Minister of Syria; Dr Ahmad Nazif, Prime Minister of Egypt; and Amre Moussa, Secretary General of Arab League; to brief them on the meeting between the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Israel,” a Foreign Office statement said on Wednesday.

It said the prime minister told the Muslim leaders in clear terms that the contact in Istanbul did not imply recognition by Pakistan of Israel. “It was essentially meant to engage the Israelis to encourage them to resolve the Middle East problem. Israel had taken a significant step by vacating Gaza and Pakistan wanted to see the process to continue at an accelerated pace in the West Bank.”

According to the statement, Mr Aziz re-affirmed Pakistan’s principled position on the Palestine issue, emphasizing that recognition of Israel would depend on the establishment of a Palestinian state with Al-Quds as its capital.

It said: “The Arab leaders appreciated the briefing and viewed the meeting positively, expressing the hope that the contact would help the peace process in the Middle East.”—Q.A.