Defense Minister Ehud Barak declined to apologize to Tanzania, one of his associates said Tuesday, despite a letter from the African country protesting his statement that its representatives in Israel found offensive.
In an interview with Israel Radio's Ayala Hasson last Thursday, Barak criticized the Foreign Ministry for warning that adopting the Palestinian position on how to advance diplomatic talks would make England, France, and Germany irrelevant.
"Germany, France and England are not Tanzania, Mauritania or Tripolitania [a region in Libya]," said Barak, noting places whose names rhyme with England in Hebrew. "These are very important, very relevant countries and we don't have an interest in increasing tensions with them or making them bitter enemies."
Tanzania's honorary consul in Israel, Kasbian Nuriel Chirich, wrote a letter to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman condemning Barak's remarks and inviting a representative of Israel to visit his country.
Barak's associates said he did not intend to express regret for his statements about Tanzania, which they said Barak had made on multiple occasions.
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