Pakistan Was in Contact With Israel for Years'

Haaretz Service
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Haaretz Service

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri said his country has had secret contacts with Israel for at least the past decade, the Pakistan News Wire reported yesterday.

According to the report, Kasuri made the remarks after the Pakistani parliament's foreign affairs committee met in Islamabad on Monday.

The report quoted Kasuri as saying his handshake with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom during their meeting in Istanbul last week was the first time a Pakistani official had shaken hands with a representative of Israel.

Kasuri and Shalom met last Thursday in the first publicly acknowledged high-level contact between predominantly Muslim Pakistan and the Jewish state.

Kasuri told journalists Monday that he had briefed the committee in full about his meeting with Shalom, and that it had not yet been decided whether a meeting between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would take place.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said last week that Musharraf had no plans to meet Sharon during his visit to New York this month to attend the United Nations General Assembly. But Shalom said Thursday that he and Kasuri had discussed the possibility of such a meeting.

Kasuri said the talks, which came in the wake of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip last month, did not constitute Pakistani recognition of Israel.

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