Friday, April 20, 2007
Musharraf: Willing to visit Israel to promote peace
"Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf made a surprise offer Friday to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an interview with the pan-Arab satellite Television Al-Arabiya.
Musharraf told the Dubai-based television that he would be willing to visit Israel in order to help bring peace to the troubled Middle East.
Pakistan - a key ally in the U.S.-led war against terrorism - has no formal diplomatic ties with Israel and supports a separate state for Palestinians with Jerusalem as its capital.
In the interview aired late Friday, Musharraf said he was enthusiastic to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and would go to Israel if his offer to be involved in a mediation process was accepted.
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," said Musharraf, although he has so far not been asked to mediate. "If there was a role that I can play, and both sides accept that role, yes, indeed, I would like to play that role."......
Pakistan has not been yet involved in any negotiations concerning the Arab region, but hosted talks in late February in Islamabad, attended by Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, on issues ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to the war in Iraq and the standoff with Iran......
Musharraf had defended his government's talks with Israel, saying contact between the two countries is in accordance with the tenets of Islam. Musharraf said Islam allowed its followers to engage with people of other faiths.....
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who was also present in the meeting, said Pakistan would decide about the recognition of Israel "in the supreme national interest after due consultations."
Pakistan had made the decision to hold talks with Israel after the implementation of the 2005 disengagement plan."