Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern is to visit Israel on the first leg of a four day tour of the Middle East.

 Irish Foreign Minister visits Israel


FM Livni and Irish FM Ahern in Jerusalem, Jan 31, 2007 (Reuters)

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Dermot Ahern will arrive this evening (Jan. 30) for a two day visit to Israel, part of a four day tour of the region.

He is due to hold talks on the peace process in the region with the Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian and Lebanese governments. He will visit the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs tomorrow, January 31, where he will meet with FM Livni for discussions regarding various aspects of  the political process, the Iran situation and bilateral economic relations between Israel and Ireland. The Minister will also meet with the families of the abducted soldiers.

Mr. Ahern last visited the region some 18 months ago as an emissary of former  U.N. Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan.  Ireland has deployed peace-keeping troops in Lebanon since the ’70s, and has recently agreed to deploy its troops within the framework of the international peace-keeping forces stationed in the south of Lebanon.

While sharing a good relationship, Israel and Ireland have yet to achieve the full potential of these ties. The similarity between the two economies, both primarily based on foreign investment and the Hi-Tech sector, provides a secure foundation for future cooperation. The Irish economy has been characterized for the past few years by unprecedented growth that has positioned the country as a leading world economy, at the same time creating a role-model for other small countries.

In light of the above, Israel welcomes the visit of FM Ahern as an opportunity to strengthen the bilateral relations in areas not previously examined.