Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is prepared to discuss a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East as part of future peace talks, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency said Thursday.
Mohamed ElBaradei, on a three-day trip to Israel, said Sharon made this commitment during their one-hour meeting Thursday in the Israeli prime minister's office in Jerusalem.
"The prime minister affirmed to me that Israeli policy continues to be that in the context of peace in the Middle East, Israel will be looking forward to the establishment of a nuclear-weapons free zone in the Middle East," ElBaradei conveyed.
ElBaradei said that Sharon had linked arms-control talks to progress in the "road map" peace plan. Nonetheless, he said he was pleased by Sharon's comments.
"That's the first time I hear that from the prime minister of Israel," ElBaradei told reporters, according to The AP. "It's not a new policy, but affirming that policy at the level of prime minister I thought to be quite a welcome development."
During his visit, ElBaradei said Israel has repeatedly raised concerns about Iran's own nuclear plans.
ElBaradei was denied access to Israel's Dimona reactor, said to be the source of plutonium for Israel's weapons program. (albawaba.com)
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