Israel welcomes Musharraf's offer to mediate in Middle East

April 23, 2007 - 0:0
Beit-ul-Moqaddas (PTI) -- Israel has welcomed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's surprise offer to mediate in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

"We believe that moderate Muslim States, like Pakistan, can have an important role in promoting peace in this region", Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yariv Ovadia, told PTI.

The spokesman, however, called upon Islamabad to first establish diplomatic ties with Beit-ul-Moqaddas to make the process more effective.

"History shows us that success in such mediation came only when the broker, the mediator, had diplomatic relations with both sides", Ovadia said in response.

Musharraf made the surprise offer in an interview with the Arab satellite station Al-Arabiya yesterday.

The Pakistani president even said that he would be willing to visit Israel to help bring peace to the Middle East. Musharraf said he could also start his talks first with the Palestinians, "or maybe in some third country... going to Israel is also a possibility."

"It will be an honor, if I can contribute in any way. If there was a role that I can play, and both sides accept that role, yes, indeed, I would like to play that role," he said.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri met with former Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Istanbul in 2005 in the first publicly acknowledged high-level contact between the two countries.

Musharraf has also earlier sent overtures suggesting establishment of diplomatic ties with Israel, but has backed off in face of resistance from fundamentalists in his country.

The two countries are said, to have contacts at various UN forum and there have been several "chance meetings" at the top level.