Katsav Meets New Ambassadors Despite FM's Objection

President's office denies he was to comment on probe against him; Livni says Katsav should step down.

President Moshe Katsav on Wednesday met with five newly appointed ambassadors at the President's Residence, despite calls by the Foreign Ministry this was inappropriate in light of his expected indictment for sexual offenses.

On Tuesday night, Israeli diplomats questioned whether Katsav should be allowed to sign off on documents stating they are the country's representatives overseas, Channel 10 reported. The diplomats said they did not believe Katsav should be the one signing the papers.

Katsav, however, hosted at the residence the new ambassadors for France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.

Also Wednesday, the president's office released a statement denying rumors that Katsav would speak at a press conference on the criminal investigation against him.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (Kadima) called on Katsav to resign in response to the police's recommendation to indict him on a number of charges including rape.

"In the current situation, almost without connection to the criminal question, I believe that it would not be right for President Katsav to continue to serve as president," said Livni.

Livni made the comments at a ceremony marking the opening of "Kadima House" in Hadera.

"Due to the fact that he [Katsav] has announced that, should he be indicted - which could happen in the coming days - he will resign anyways, then we can wait a few days," said the foreign minister. "But the current situation is not appropriate."

Meanwhile, Katsav is continuing with his regular daily routine, saying that he is convinced that no indictment will be served against him. The president feels that he has been treated unfairly when compared with other public figures who became involved in suspicions of criminal transgressions.