Jerusalem, 21 March 2003

FM Shalom speaks with US Secretary of State Powell and UK Foreign Secretary Straw
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom spoke today (21 March) with US Secretary of State Colin Powell. Foreign Minister Shalom expressed his appreciation for the US action against the tyrannical leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, noting that this operation would benefit the entire region. Mr. Shalom stated that Israel understands very well the meaning of sending mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters onto the battlefield and expressed the hope that these soldiers will soon return home to their loved ones, safe and sound. The Foreign Minister also extended his condolences for the American crew members killed in the crash of a Marine helicopter in Iraq, adding, "Our hearts are with you and with all the American people."

Secretary of State Powell briefed the Foreign Minister on the status of the fighting in Iraq.

Foreign Minister Shalom expressed his gratitude to the Secretary of State for the US Government’s decision on the aid package.

During the conversation, FM Shalom noted that the appointment of Abu Mazen as a Palestinian prime minister is a step in the right direction. He added that Israel is following Abu Mazen’s efforts to form a government, and that with regard to this matter, Israel places great importance on security and fighting terrorism.

The Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State decided to meet for an in-depth discussion of current matters during Minister Shalom’s upcoming visit to Washington.

Foreign Minister Shalom also spoke today with his colleague, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Jack Straw. FM Shalom extended his condolences for the British commandos who lost their lives in today’s helicopter crash. The Foreign Minister also expressed his appreciation for British and American actions to defeat the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Foreign Secretary Straw updated FM Shalom regarding the fighting in Iraq. Mr. Straw thanked Mr. Shalom, and promised to pass his condolences to the bereaved families.