Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spoke this evening with Spanish King Juan Carlos I de Bourbon, who had telephoned in order to ask him to attend the gathering to mark the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona Conference.  The Spanish monarch said many European and Arab leaders – such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali – will attend and emphasized that Prime Minister Sharon’s participation would be very important for advancing relations between Israel and Arab countries.  The Spanish King reiterated the international community’s high esteem for the Prime Minister and the steps he has taken in the framework of the Disengagement Plan.

Prime Minister Sharon thanked Spanish King Juan Carlos I and said that he would be happy to attend but will be unable to do so in light of the domestic political situation.  The Prime Minister said that he decided to bring the elections forward, quit his party and establish a new party in order to advance the things he believes in.

Prime Minister Sharon said that after the elections he would be happy to visit Spain and meet with the King.  The Prime Minister invited the Spanish monarch to visit Israel.