hamid karzai 298.
(photo credit: AP)
Afghani President Hamid Karzai's spokesman poured cold water Sunday on hopes Kabul would recognize Israel in the near future, saying this would only take place after the establishment of a Palestinian state.
"We will establish relations with Israel after our Palestinian brothers have an independent and free state," Karim Rahimi quoted the president as saying.
Karzai's clarification came a day after the Pakistani press quoted Afghani diplomatic sources as saying that Karzai's government had decided to recognize Israel, and that an official announcement would be made in "the next few days."
Israeli diplomatic officials who reacted to the Pakistani reports by of an imminent Afghani recognition by saying they were pleased but not surprised, responded Sunday to Afghanistan's clarification by saying that "patience is needed," and that it was possible Karzai had come under various pressures that persuaded him to change his mind.
Karzai said in an interview published Friday in Yediot Ahronot that "When there is more progress and the Palestinians will begin to get their own state, Afghanistan will be happy to have full relations with Israel."
Karzai also said that he viewed the recent handshake at the United Nations between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a positive development. "If I had the opportunity to meet the prime minister of Israel I would do so," he said.
At the same time, Karzai said, "Right now I don't think Prime Minister Sharon will come to Kabul, and I don't think I will have the opportunity to come to Tel Aviv in the near future. But a meeting somewhere else, why not?"