Meeting of FM Levy with Cypriot FM Ioannis Kasoulides

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
March 30, 2000

Minister of Foreign Affairs David Levy met today with his Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Kasoulides. The two signed three agreements: a customs agreement, a protocol for a diplomatic dialogue between the two Foreign Ministries, and a protocol concerning a working program for cooperation in the cultural sphere. In addition, they discussed the Palestinian and Syrian tracks of the peace process, and the enhancement of the good bilateral relations and the strengthening of economic and commercial ties between the two countries.

Foreign Minister David Levy accepted the invitation of his guest to visit Cyprus in the near future.

Minister Levy presented his Cypriot counterpart with an update on the withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon, and said that this was the time to break the "vicious circle" of this terrible situation.

"The Government of Israel is determined to withdraw from Lebanon – this is a clear Israeli interest, and it will be implemented on the date set, towards July, on the basis of Security Council Resolution 425. It is now the responsibility of the international partners to this resolution to ensure that there is quiet in Lebanon, to assist the Lebanese Government in maintaining quiet, and to do everything possible to prevent a deterioration in the future. We will do our utmost to cooperate in order to facilitate the implementation of this principle. We have no intention of laying down conditions, as the matter falls under their responsibility, but we will do everything we can in order to assist these international parties," stated Minister Levy.

Regarding the Clinton-Assad meeting in Geneva, Minister Levy said that the ball was now in the Syrian court, and that he hoped that the Syrians would show readiness to understand Israel’s perception of comprehensive peace. "The Israeli people must see that peace has value, and is not merely an opportunity for the Syrians to receive the Golan." Levy added that "President Assad will understand from our steadfast decision to withdraw from Lebanon that time is running out. The coming days will prove whether Assad is interested in peace."

The Cypriot Foreign Minister stated that Cyprus wishes to assist where possible and whenever requested to do so, in order to advance the peace process, and stated that he hoped the negotiations with the Syrians would continue. He added that Cyprus would be happy to host any meeting that would assist the peace process, both in regard to the Syrians and the Palestinians.

Foreign Minister Levy thanked his counterpart for his goodwill, and said that he would be delighted if Cyprus would host a meeting between Israelis and Lebanese at any venue and on any level, in order to enable Israel to make it clear to them that we are ready to help them rebuild their independence and power.