Israeli president shakes hands with Syrian and Iranian leaders

Friday, April 08, 2005 | 
Israel’s President Moshe Katsav shook hands with the leaders of two countries that are arch-enemies of the Jewish state--Syria and Iran--at the pope’s funeral today in Rome. "It was a historic moment and unique opportunity," said Katsav's spokeswoman, Hagit Cohen. Katsav said he shook hands twice with Syrian President Bashar Assad. "During the prayers, according to the Christian tradition, we exchanged handshakes,” Katsav said. “During this, it was the Syrian president who extended his hand to me and we again shook hands." Katsav, who was born in Iran, also shared a few words with Iranian President Mohammed Khatami. "The Iranian president held his hand out to me,” Katsav said. “I shook his hand and greeted him in [the Iranian language,] Farsi."

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