Jerusalem, January 24, 2004

Visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia, Alexander Downer, will arrive in Israel on Sunday, 25 January, for an official visit, as the guest of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom.

During the visit, the visiting minister will meet with the Israeli President, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Head of the Opposition. He will also visit the Knesset, and plant a tree at the Maccabiah bridge disaster memorial site.

Israel and Australia enjoy particularly warm relations. Australia’s leaders, among them the visiting minister, demonstrate strong and public support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens, while sharply condemning Palestinian terror. The Australian government put the military arms of Hamas and Hizbullah on its list of terrorist organizations. At the UN, Australia objected to a number of anti-Israel resolutions, including the one concerning the anti-terrorist fence.

This is Mr. Downer’s second visit to Israel. His first visit was in 1998.