Gulf & Middle East
Olmert turns down Musharraf's mediation offer
Apr 22, 2007 - 6:15:35 PM

Jerusalem, April 22 - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday rejected an offer by Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Olmert said in an interview with local radio stations that he would maintain direct contacts with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas rather than depend on a mediator.

'We don't need someone to come from afar in order for me and Abur Mazel - to meet,' Olmert was quoted as saying.

According to a report aired by Al-Arabya television station late Friday, Musharraf said he could start talks with the Palestinians in an effort to mediate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or 'maybe in some third country... going to Israel is also a possibility.'

'It will be an honour if I can contribute in any way,' said Musharraf, adding, 'If there was a role that I can play, and both sides accept that role, yes, indeed, I would like to play that role.'

On Saturday, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Pakistan's involvement would be welcomed, but Musharraf's effectiveness would likely be limited, local daily Ha'aretz reported.

The first publicly acknowledged high-level contact between Pakistan and Israel was in September 2005, when Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri met with then Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Istanbul.

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