Wahid: Jakarta will not Open Trade Ties with Israel unless Peace Reached with Palestinians
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid vowed in Abu Dhabi on Friday that Jakarta would not open trade ties with Israel until the Jewish state reached a final peace settlement with the Palestinians, reported the Jakarta Post newspaper.
"I told (Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh) that Indonesia will not open a representative trade office in Israel until there is lasting peace in the Middle East," Wahid said during a press briefing shortly after his arrival in UAE from a two-day visit to Yemen, said the Post.
According to the Jakarta Post, Wahid's latest remarks belie statements he made soon after taking office in 1999 that Indonesia would open trade ties with Israel.
"The statements appear to be an attempt to win the hearts of the host countries during his current Middle East tour, which will take him to Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Despite the public uproar, Wahid and his aides have in the past defended the possibility of opening trade ties with Israel, using the argument that the move would help attract Jewish investment from the United States.
Israel jumped at the prospect of widening ties with Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, sending a delegation to Jakarta that included representatives from the ministry of industry and the federation of Israeli chambers of commerce.
Wahid has embarked on his two-week tour of the Middle East and North African countries with the goal of luring investment and bolstering trade with the region.
minister of defense, Mahfud M.D., said earlier that Wahid would lobby Arab countries to purchase small arms and military planes from Indonesia.
Wahid is scheduled to meet with UAE President Shiekh Zayed before leaving for Cairo on Saturday afternoon to attend the D-8 summit on Sunday.
Wahid will cap his trip by performing the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia - Albawaba.com
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