Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Shalom meets Tunisian and Moroccan ministers

In what was described as "positive" meetings, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met with his Moroccan and Tunisian counterparts at the UN Monday to discuss how to deepen ties with their countries. However, despite the kisses and hugs which marked the meetings, full diplomatic ties were not an option, the Jerusalem Post of 20 September reports.

(...)"Israel and Tunisia opened relations following the 1993 Oslo Accords. Those ties gradually improved and in 1996 Tunisia and Israel took a major step forward with the opening of low-level diplomatic missions in Tunis in April and in Tel Aviv in June 1996.

"Tunisia became a popular destination for Israelis of Tunisian origin who longed to return to their roots. Khaddura Houri, a Tunisia-born Israeli musician, made his first trip in 2000 for a musical performance.

"But the ties were broken in 2001 when Tunisia, like many other Arab countries which had opened ties, closed the offices following the start of the second intifada.

"As the violence subsided, Israelis were invited back to Tunisia. Houri performed again in 2004. Following the resumption of peace talks with the PA in February, Tunisian President Zine El Abidin Ben Alihim invited Ariel Sharon to attend a conference in Tunisia on scientific cooperation to take place in November."

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