JERUSALEM & TUNIS - Ariel Sharon accepted an unprecedented invitation from Tunisian President Zine El Abidin Ben Ali to visit the north African country, the Israeli prime minister's office announced Friday.
"The prime minister received a letter inviting him to attend a conference in Tunisia on scientific cooperation and plans to make the visit," a source in Sharon's office said, adding the letter came from Ben Ali.
The conference - the second World Summit on the Information Society - will be held in mid-November, the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot said Friday.
Official Tunisian sources confirmed the invitation to Middle East Online.
The second phase of the summit will be hosted by Tunisia in November 16-18, 2005. (www.wsistunis2005.org)
The world summit is organized by the United Nations and all UN-member countries are expected to attend the summit.
Israel Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who recently expressed hope that diplomatic ties could be forged with "at least another ten Arab countries", held secret talks with his Tunisian counterpart Abdelbaki Hermassi in recent months, the paper added.
The invitation comes on the heels of renewed hopes for Middle East peace after Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas declared a cessation of hostilities at a key summit earlier this month.
Tunisia broke off diplomatic ties with Israel after the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000, although some commercial relations continue.
At the moment, the only countries in the Arab world with which Israel has full diplomatic relations are Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania.