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Israeli Foreign Minister May Go to Qatar
AP ^ | 10/25/06 | RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI

Posted on 10/25/2006 8:42:30 AM PDT by Valin

JERUSALEM Israel's foreign minister is expected to travel to Qatar next week, a trip that would make her the most senior Israeli official to visit the Gulf state in 10 years. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni plans to attend a U.N. conference on democracy, ministry officials said Wednesday.

Livni would be the highest Israeli official to visit Qatar since then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres traveled there in 1996. The Peres visit paved the way for the opening of an Israeli trade office in Doha and low-level diplomatic ties between the countries. Earlier this week, officials said Livni might discuss the Iranian nuclear program and the fate of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas-linked militants in the Gaza Strip.

Qatar, which has low-level diplomatic ties with Israel, also has good relations with Hamas and has attempted to mediate between the sides in the past. Qatari officials were not immediately available for comment due to the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

After the signing of the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians in 1993, Israel developed tentative relations with some of the Gulf Arab states, opening trade offices in Qatar and Oman in 1996. The Omani office was closed after the eruption of Israel-Palestinian violence in September 2000, although informal contacts continued. Qatar and Israel retained low-level commercial ties.

Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab states to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel, downgraded relations after the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising, protesting what they said was Israel's excessively forceful response.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Israel
KEYWORDS: qatar
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1 posted on 10/25/2006 8:42:34 AM PDT by Valin
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