Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on Monday welcomed the idea of Israel and Pakistan establishing diplomatic ties, The Jerusalem Post reported.
On Sunday, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf urged his countrymen to consider recognizing Israel, a position strongly opposed by leading religious figures.
Shalom said "the time has come to do it and we are willing to do it," noting that Israel is negotiating directly with the Palestinian Authority, talking with Gulf leaders and has diplomatic ties with Egypt and Jordan. He also said that Israel views Pakistan as a "very important" Muslim and Asian country.
Musharraf said in an interview aired Sunday by the private Geo Television channel that "this is the responsibility of the nation to decide. This should be seriously thought over. The media should have an open debate on this." "The debate should be serious. There should be no emotionalism of the extremists," he said.
"What is our dispute [with Israel]? We should think," he said. "I have been saying. 'Should we be more Catholic than the pope or more pious than the pope or more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves?'" Musharraf said. "Is this the right attitude or should there be some change in it? There should be national consensus on it."
On Saturday, Pakistan Defence Minister Rao Sikandar Iqbal has categorically stated, there is no plan to recognize Israel in near future and speculations in this regard are incorrect. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )