Peres and Lieberman at reception for foreign diplomatic corps
Photo: AP

Peres to tell Obama Israel seeks peace

President to head to Washington this weekend in bid to 'soften' American counterpart ahead of Prime Minister Netanyahu's US visit in mid May. Foreign Minister Lieberman to make his first official trip to Europe next week

President Shimon Peres will head to Washington this weekend in order to "soften" American President Barack Obama, ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the United States in mid May.


Peres plans to clarify in his White House meeting that the new Israeli government is sticking to the road of peace.


On Independence Day, President Peres hosted a reception for the foreign diplomatic corps in Israel and told them, "The meaning of serving in Israel is serving in the Holy Land and for peace. I am certain that you aspire to help us bring peace and quiet to the region.


"You should know that Israel wants peace wholeheartedly, and that although we have experienced seven wars we have struck two important peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, which have led to the beginning of the longed for change in the Middle East, and we hope this will continue."


During his US visit, Peres will represent Israel at a conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington. Netanyahu and Peres met on Independence Day and coordinated the issues which would be raised in the president's meeting with his American counterpart.


Lieberman and Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Reda shake hands at President's Residence (Photo: AP)


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will leave for Europe next week, for his first official visit to the continent since taking office. Lieberman is expected to land on Monday in Rome, where he will meet with his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini. It is still unclear whether he will also meet with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.


The foreign minister will then head to Paris, where he will meet with his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner. Lieberman is also interested in meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy, but has yet to receive an answer.


He is later expected to meet with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg in Prague. Lieberman wil conclude his European tour in a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin.


Iranian issue on the agenda  

Netanyahu is still attempting to form a foreign policy together with the other two members of the government's narrow forum, Foreign Minister Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who are at odds over the two states for two people principle.


Netanyahu has yet to decide on the issue, but recently said, "We have no interest to control the Palestinians and run their lives. We have no problem with a flag and a passport. The dispute is about territory, about Jerusalem."


Netanyahu stressed, however, that "we are making a fundamental mistake by idling away on the most basic thing – the demand for a Jewish national state. If they fail to recognize a Jewish national state, there will be no process here. I believe the Palestinians will accept this, if we make a demand."


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded to these remarks Monday, saying that he would not recognize Israel as the Jewish people's state.


Peres, Netanyahu and Lieberman are expected to ask during their visits to Europe and the US to make the make the Iranian issue a top priority.


פרסום ראשון: 04.30.09, 07:25
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