Statements by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Brian Cowen of Ireland following their meeting

Jerusalem, 10 September 2001

FM Peres: I am pleased to welcome the Foreign Minister of Ireland, Brian Cowen. I think we have ahead a very friendly, open and constructive conversation. I would like to express our appreciation and thanks to the Irish government for the role they played in Durban, showing international responsibility and an understanding of Jewish history, and of Israeli destiny. I think that Ireland as a member of the European Union is sincerely interested in bringing peace to the region, and to reaching a cease-fire as soon as possible. We are trying to see what will be the best way to achieve it.

I believe it was a very useful meeting and I hope we shall continue the dialogue in the future.

Irish FM Cowen: Thank you. First of all can I thank Mr. Peres and the Israeli government for facilitating our visit here this evening to discuss the present situation.

May I first of all say that I began our discussions this evening by conveying to Mr. Peres the condolences of the Irish people to the Israeli people for the murderous attacks which took place yesterday. Also, of course, our sympathy goes towards those who have suffered in the present conflict.

We have had a very frank and open meeting, as he has said. I have said to him that we come here in empathy and sympathy for all the people of the region, to try and see in what way we can assist everyone of good will who is trying to improve the situation and get a resolution of the problems. And I said to him that in my further meetings tomorrow and in the following day, I will impress upon other parties the importance of finding a basis for a political dialogue that is constructive, that is progressive, and that will move the situation forward in an atmosphere of mutual respect, trust, and partnership; and that the need to establish trust and confidence on the basis of actions, by all concerned, is the best means by which this can be done.

I thank Foreign Minister Peres very much for giving us his views. He is man who has walked tirelessly in this process. I want to say to

him, on behalf of the Irish government and the Irish people, that we come here to assist in whatever way we can to bring about solutions to the problems of this region, and to work with everybody concerned in a fair, open, and honest way. Thank you.

Q: (inaudible)

FM Peres: The Mitchell Report is a sequence, and the opening step in the Mitchell Report is a cease-fire. that is what we are doing. We shall continue to follow the Mitchell Report and implement it. Our aim right now is to open the road in order to implement the Mitchell Report in its totality. The first call is really to bring an end to terror so we can sit down and deal with the other issues that should follow.

Q: (inaudible)

FM Cowen: Yes, it is my intention during the course of this visit to meet both Yasser Arafat and President Assad as part of the context of which my visit has happened, which is our impending chairmanship of the Security Council. We stand ready to facilitate and assist in any way we can. I, for my part will be seeking to encourage, based on our direct experience of our own peace process, the need for everybody to recognize the importance of dialogue, even in the most difficult of circumstances.