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12 May 2003
Greek FM Papandreou meets Israeli counterpart
May 12, 2003: Meeting between Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou
and his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou expressed “the will of the 25-nation European Union for this opportunity not to be missed and for advantage to be taken of the new situation in the region”. He was speaking in his capacity as President of the EU Council of Ministers at a joint press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
Noting that Israel was now a neighbour of the enlarged EU, Papandreou stressed that “it is absolutely necessary for the peace plan to be promoted, for a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state.”
On his part, Shalom said that the Israeli government was trying to promote initiatives for the implementation of the peace plan, while noting that fighting terrorism was expected as a first move on the Palestinian side. Referring to the forthcoming meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Abu Mazen, which he described as “very important”, Shalom underlined that the Palestinian premier had to demonstrate his ability to fight terrorism.
Replying to questions, Papandreou underlined that “there has been a difference of opinion in the EU on the Iraq issue, but there is no such difference concerning the implementation of the road map”.
Lastly, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled said that the meeting between Papandreou and Sharon was not subject to the precondition that the Greek foreign minister would not meet with Yasser Arafat.
“We disagree with this meeting, but we accept it,” Peled said, adding that the Israeli government had certain reservations regarding the road map due to the fact that “if it is implemented as is, it might lead to failure. However, let us begin with the first phase, which provides for specific steps in a process of reciprocating gestures with the Palestinian side”.
Papandreou is due to meet with Sharon in Jerusalem on Tuesday (13 May).