Wahid Meets UAE President, Offers Mediation in Islands Dispute with Iran
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid and his Emirati counterpart, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan, held talks in Abu Dhabi Saturday on the situation in the Muslim world, the official news agency WAM reported.
They also reviewed developments in the Gulf and the stalled Middle East peace process, while Wahid congratulated Sheikh Zayed, 82, on his recovery from a kidney transplant last year, said the agency.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab offered Jakarta's mediation in a long-running dispute between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran over control of three strategic islands in the southern Gulf, AFP said.
Wahid is "ready to help the two Muslim countries find a peaceful and acceptable solution for the two parties," said Shihab.
The foreign minister also said Jakarta was seeking funding from the oil-rich Gulf monarchies for the Muslims of the troubled Indonesian province of Aceh, where separatists have battled for independence since 1976.
Wahid kicked off a regional tour in Yemen and arrived in Abu Dhabi on Friday. The tour also covers Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, where Wahid will perform Haj in Mecca.
During his visit to Sanaa, Wahid vowed 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 - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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