FM Talks With Pakistani Minister, Iraqi First Lady at Vienna Conference

Livni participates in panel on Middle Eastern political processes at Vienna Women Leaders conference.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni attended a conference of women leaders on Thursday in Vienna, Austria, where she met with women from all parts of the Arab and Muslim world, including first lady of Iraq, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed Talabani.

Talabani and Livni spent several minutes discussing the peace process while they participated in a panel on the topic.

In discussion with Talabani, Livni described the situation faced by residents of Sderot in Israel's south, who are terrorized daily by Qassam rockets fired from the nearby Gaza Strip.

Over the past two weeks, during the conflict between Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces, Hamas has launched around 275 rockets causing two deaths, many injuries, and extensive damage to homes in the town. Israel has responded with continuous air strikes at Hamas targets in the Gaza strip, killing around 50 people, mostly militants.

"There is much better understanding that Middle Eastern politics is not a zero-sum game," Livni told the panel. "Nations in the region face common threats," she added. Livni commended the Arab League's initiative which is aimed at normalizing relations with Israel. "Normalizing relations now will help advance the political process," she said.

During the conference, Livni also met with Pakistani Minister for Women's Development, Sumaira Malik. The two spoke informally and warmly in the lounge. They discussed the need to broaden the range of nations who supported and aided the political process to include Islamic nations such as Pakistan and Indonesia rather than exclusively Arab nations.

"The whole world's involvement in the peace process should be strengthened," the Pakistani minister said.

The conference, which was titled entitled Women Leaders Networking for Peace and Security in the Middle East, was initiated by Austrian Foreign Minister, Ursula Plassnik and attended by other female leaders including former president of the United Nations General Assembly, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain, Palestinian representative Dr. Hanan Ashrawi and Minister for Scientific Research Souad Bendjaballah of Algeria.