peres face shot298 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
President Shimon Peres sent a letter congratulating Gen. Pervez Musharraf on his victory in Pakistan's presidential election, Peres's office said on Monday, offering a surprising gesture of support for a military ruler whose government has no formal relations with Israel.
Musharraf was overwhelmingly reelected in Sunday's election in Pakistan. But much of the opposition boycotted the vote, and the country's Supreme Court must decide whether to confirm the result or disqualify Musharraf due to his retention of his powerful role as army chief.
In his message to the Pakistani leader, Peres wrote: "Dear Mr. President, Although we do not have formal relations, I would like to convey my best wishes on your election as president of Pakistan for a second term.
"You have shown responsibility and strength in preventing the spread of violence and terrorism on many occasions and I carry in my heart your support for peace in the Middle East which I heard directly from you.
"The desire for peace unites all of us as the noblest undertaking for all peoples.
Please accept, Your Excellency the assurances of my highest consideration. Yours sincerely, Shimon Peres."
The letter carried both the Gregorian and the Hebrew calendar dates.
Peres and Musharraf met briefly in Davos in January, 2004, when they ran into each other in a hotel lobby. Peres promptly invited the Pakistani leader to visit Israel, to which Musharraf responded that he would be happy to make such a visit if relations between the two countries were established.
He stipulated however, that for this to happen, Israel would have to give fundamental rights to the Palestinians. Peres said that there had been a lot of misunderstandings between Israel and Pakistan and that efforts should be made to resolve these issues.
Musharraf conceded that such an effort should be made, but remained firm in his advocacy for the Palestinians.
In April, Musharraf made a surprise offer to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an interview with the pan-Arab satellite television station Al-Arabiya. He told the Dubai-based station he would be willing to visit the Jewish state to help bring peace to the troubled Middle East.