Meeting of FM Levy with FM Latypov of Belarus

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
April 11, 2000

The Foreign Ministers of Israel and Belarus signed various agreements and established a joint committee to promote the deepening of relations between the two states.

At their meeting today in Jerusalem, Foreign Minister David Levy and Foreign Minister of Belarus Ural Latypov agreed on the establishment of a joint committee that will examine ways to further the relations between the two countries.

The two ministers signed four agreements on:

1. The promotion and protection of investments.
2. The prevention of double taxation and tax evasion.
3. Cooperation in the areas of education, science and culture.
4. The establishment of cultural centers.

Minister Levy reviewed for the guest the status of the peace process and emphasized that, despite the ups and downs of the difficult and complex negotiations with the Palestinians, it is clear to everyone that there is no alternative, and the government of Israel is determined to move forward with the process.

With regard to Lebanon, Levy said that the latter wants to reach an agreement with Israel, but is prevented from doing so due to Syria’s control of the area. "Damascus has a problem with the concept of peace. Aside from their demand that Israel evacuate the Golan Heights up to the shores of the Sea of Galilee, the Syrians had nothing to say at the meetings with us, and even at the Clinton-Assad meeting, they did not supply any answers," Levy stated.

The Minister added that "in the Middle East, only the strong can achieve peace, and only through face-to-face dialogue."

He also filled his guest in concerning the threats to Israel from Iran and Iraq.

Concerning their bilateral relations, Levy said that the Foreign Ministry would encourage governmental as well as private bodies to strengthen business and commercial ties with Balarus. The Minister expressed his confidence that Belarus will work to improve its image in the area of human rights as part of its efforts to forge closer ties also with Europe and the US.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Foreign Minister Latypov invited Minister Levy to visit Minsk.