Israel's minister of agriculture Yisrael Katz said Tuesday he had been invited to Pakistan in March in an indication of "improving relations between the two countries", however Pakistan has denied Katz' statement regarding the "invitation".
Earlier, Katz told Israel Radio he received the invitation through an official at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and would visit Pakistan with a small group of United Nations officials.
It should be noted that Israel has no formal diplomatic or commercial ties with Pakistan. Late last year, President Pervez Musharraf said Pakistan might establish ties with Israel if progress is made on the Palestinian front.
Tel Aviv-based Maariv daily, however, reported on Tuesday in its headline that senior officials from both countries have met secretly in recent weeks in Europe and the USA.
"I have been invited to visit Pakistan this coming March, and have accepted the invitation," Katz told Israel Radio Tuesday.
He said the invitation had come through the director of the United Nation's food and agriculture organization.
"I ascribe great significance to the upcoming visit," Katz said, linking the invitation to "strengthened" Israeli-Pakistani relations lately between the two countries.
"The fact is that the two countries, along with many others, are walking alongside President George Bush, nations who are fighting terrorism, certainly constitutes a basis for cooperation, especially in agriculture and food production, which can certainly aid Pakistan and Israeli-Pakistani ties in the future."
However, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan later said, "The government of Pakistan has not invited the Israeli agriculture minister."
Khan said the FAO had suggeted sending a delegation in March for a conference on crop maximalization, but had provided no details on the composition of the team.
Katz added that Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom is scheduled to meet in Davos, Switzerland with a Pakistani minister attending the economic conference.
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