First Published: 2004-09-22

Israeli FM briefly meets Iraqi PM

Shalom tells Allawi he hopes peace will come in near future in first ever official contact between two nations.


Middle East Online

First contact ever

UNITED NATIONS - Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met and had a brief exchange here Tuesday with Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in what Israeli officials said was the first ever formal contact between the two countries.

Shalom and other Israeli officials said the short conversation - which included handshakes and pleasantries - occurred at the UN General Assembly just before the start of its annual debate because of the alphabetical manner in which countries' delegations are seated.

"We were sitting next to each other," Shalom told reporters at his midtown Manhattan hotel. "It was an opportunity to talk one to another.

"We shook hands and I told him I hoped peace would come in the near future and all of them smiled and they shook my hands and that was it," he said of the three-minute exchange.

Allawi was accompanied to the UN General Assembly meeting by two other officials, all of whom Shalom and his delegation said they had spoken with.

"It was the first contact ever," Shalom said, voicing hope that a democratic revolution might be spurred if Iraq is able to hold free and fair elections as planned in January.

He declined to reveal what, if anything, Allawi had said in response and Iraqi officials could not be immediately reached to comment on the interchange.

Shalom said in June that his country would like diplomatic relations with Iraq, but that it was up to Iraq to decide if and when that would happen.

In his comments to reporters, Shalom raised the possibility of a peace treaty being signed between Israel and Iraq and but could not assess its likelihood in the near future.

He said he planned to meet with a number of other Arab officials, including the prime and foreign ministers of Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Mauritania.

Shalom said he had met on Monday in New York with the foreign ministers of Tunisia and Oman.

"My message is always a message of peace," he said.


Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

Pro-Turkish forces loot Afrin

Iraqis flock to flea market for relics of bygone era

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Natural gas in eastern Mediterranean fuels increasing tensions

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting

36 jihadists killed in Egypt’s Sinai

Israel arrests French consulate worker for gun smuggling

Israel prepares to demolish Jerusalem attacker's home

Saudi crown prince says his country to seek nuclear bomb if Iran does

Arab women artists in diaspora focus on identity and loss

Tunisia’s Central Bank targets inflation but may hurt growth prospects

Libya’s health system reflects a larger humanitarian crisis

Israel blasts Gaza underground tunnel

Abu Dhabi awards France's Total stakes in oil concessions

Erdogan says Afrin city centre under ‘total’ control

Egypt tries to contain Sudan but challenges, suspicions remain

US defence secretary presses Oman on Iran weapons smuggling

Syrian regime retakes two towns from Ghouta rebels

Hamas shutters mobile firm after Gaza attack on PM

Israel punishes family members of West Bank attacker

Syria opposition says UN 'failed to prevent' Assad 'crimes'

UK tries to soothe Egyptian anger over mob attack death

Hundreds of thousands flee in dual Syria assaults

Turkish Cypriots vow to stand firm in gas dispute

Intensifying assaults in Syria spark dual evacuations

Tearful reunions, uncertain fates for Syrians fleeing Ghouta