Livni to visit Persian Gulf

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni could be the first Israeli foreign minister to visit the Persian Gulf country of Qatar in over 10 years as she is contemplating an invitation by the heads of that emirate to attend a conference there next week.

Livni was invited by the Qatari authorities to participate in the sixth international conference of the “New and Emerging Democracies” which is being held with the backing of the United Nations. Many foreign ministers were invited to the conference, including several from countries in the Persian Gulf, North Africa, and Africa.

Livni has not yet made a final decision whether to participate in the conference, and the decision will be made as the conference nears.

If Livni should decide to participate, she is expected to meet as many Arab foreign ministers as possible. Among others, she will meet with the Qatari Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, who Livni met during her visit to New York last month.

Israel has diplomatic relations with Qatar and still holds a low-level diplomatic mission in the capital Doha, which remained open throughout the past intifada.

Qatar holds an important role in the brokerage between Fatah and Hamas, and has tight connections with both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. Israel sees great importance in the visit, especially due to the current efforts to create an axis between Israel and the US and moderate Arab countries in the Middle East in light of the impending threat from Iran and its affiliate Hizballah.

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