Avigdor Liberman speaks at the Saban Forum.
(photo credit: SABAN FORUM)
Organizers of the Munich International Security Conference on Friday hurriedly revised a schedule that listed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman sharing the stage with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday morning.
The two leaders from enemy states were set to take part in a session titled “Old crises, new Middle East” along with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The presentation was announced Friday, despite the fact that Israel does not have diplomatic relations either with Iran or Saudi Arabia.
While Israel’s relationship with Iran is a hostile one, Israel has an informal connection with Saudi Arabia due to their shared concern at Iran’s threat to the region.
Now, instead of having the four speakers together for a single session, with the BBC’s Lyse Doucet moderating, organizers canceled the session and replaced it with four separate statements by the leaders.
Zarif is now set to speak at 9 a.m., with a panel on US policy following at 9:20 and Liberman speaking at 10 with Cavusoglu followed by Jubeir.
Speaking to Channel 2 news from Munich on Friday, Liberman said he had been looking forward to sharing the panel with the Iranian.
“I hope he will be in the hall when I’m speaking and hear what I think about the ayatollahs’ regime in Tehran, and everything I said to the other defense ministers whom I met: The greatest danger to the stability of the entire Middle East is Iran.”
During the conference Liberman is also set to meet with British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, German Defense Minister Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, Canada’s Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan, and Singapore’s Defense Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen. Liberman will also meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Moldovan counterpart Andrei Galbur, as well as Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Minister President of Bavaria Horst Seehofer Lorenz, and Lockheed Martin president Marillyn Hewson.
Liberman will discuss strengthening security cooperation between Israel and these countries, as well as jointly dealing with the threat of regional terrorism. “Radical Islamist terrorism has long been not just a regional problem faced by countries in the Middle East, but a global problem that affects different countries, almost indiscriminately, as part of an insane fanatical campaign against the free world,” Liberman’s office stated, adding that “one of the most important factors in dealing with this threat is cooperating across borders and continents, between all governments and relevant security agencies.”
MK Tzipi Livni MK Tzipi Livni told the conference on Saturday that multilateral collaboration against terrorism “has to go up a notch at the intelligence level,” following a closed discussion she took part in regarding intelligence activities and global terrorism.
On Friday morning Liberman met with his American counterpart, Gen. James Mattis, in Munich for the first time since Mattis was appointed secretary of defense. The two discussed several matters, with Iran first and foremost among them. A statement released by Liberman’s office said that the three central problems facing the two countries and that must be dealt with are “Iran, Iran and Iran.”
The two agreed that they must act decisively against Iran. Liberman stated that there is a “need to build a genuine and effective coalition” to deal with the terrorism that Tehran is spreading throughout the world, including the development of ballistic missiles and its continuing attempt to develop nuclear weapons.
Liberman also stated that North Korea and Iran are “two ends of the axis of evil that also includes Hezbollah and the Assad regime and Iran is the common thread.”
The two also discussed other security issues related to developments in the Middle East and ways to strengthen cooperation between Washington and Jerusalem in dealing with them.
They concluded the meeting stating that their two countries are “true allies” and that “they will continue to work together to maintain common interests.” They agreed to meet again soon.
The Munich Security Conference is held every year and hosts heads of state, foreign ministers, and defense ministers from around the globe.
More than 30 heads of state and government and 80 foreign and defense ministers along with other officials are expected to attend the conference, which opened on Friday.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.