|FM Peres Holds Diplomatic Contacts in Johannesburg
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met today (2 September) in Johannesburg with the Prime Ministers of Italy, Holland, Belgium and Russia, as well as the Indian Foreign Minister and the Jordanian Planning Minister.
While attending the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, Mr. Peres met on Monday with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and updated him regarding the peace process. Mr. Berlusconi stated that unanimity of views was achieved for the first time at the recent meeting of EU Foreign Ministers with regard to Israel’s situation and the paths forward to a solution. Foreign Minister Peres noted that progress has been achieved in the Palestinian reform program in the realms of finance and economy, and presented the list of measures taken by Israel to improve conditions for the Palestinian population. Mr. Peres stated that the problem is not the need for yet another peace plan, but rather, the need for a reliable partner who will be able to take control of the situation and conduct the lives of the Palestinians through fiscal transparency and democracy. To achieve this, Peres noted, the Palestinian side requires a uniform chain of command, which will prevent any radical organization from destroying the agenda with their guns and bombs.
Also today (2 September), Minister Peres met with the Prime Ministers of Holland, Belgium, and Russia, as well as the Foreign Minister of India. In his meetings, Mr. Peres noted that a number of reforms are necessary for the benefit of the future of the Palestinians, including the establishment of fiscal transparency, a unified command over armed forces and democratization. Minister Peres further stated that a genuine internal debate is now taking place among the Palestinians, over whether the ‘intifada’ has gained any tangible achievements or has only caused a lost opportunity. Mr. Peres added in the absence of terrorism, it would have been possible to achieve an accord within a very short period of time.
In his meeting with the Prime Minister of Holland, Minister Peres noted with appreciation the Dutch assistance to the Palestinians in the realm of floral and strawberry exports as well as other areas, stating the Israel as well attached great importance to a flourishing Palestinian economy.
In his meeting with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Foreign Minister Peres conveyed Israel’s concerns over Iranian attempts to achieve a nuclear option, stating that nuclear weapons in the hands of a fanatic religious regime would endanger the entire world. Mr. Peres noted that since Iranian petroleum is bountiful, Iran has no need for nuclear energy for peaceful use, and seeks only a capability to produce nuclear weapons. Minister Peres also discussed Israeli-Russian relations, stressing the importance of cultural, scientific and commercial ties, which amount to about $900 million a year.
In addition, Minister Peres met today (2 September) with Jordanian Minister for National Planning Bassem Awadallah, and discussed with him the promotion of joint Israeli-Jordanian projects, especially the plan for a canal linking the Red Sea and the Dead Sea.