FM to Russia: Cut ties with terrorists

Lieberman meets with Berlusconi and tells him that dialogue with Iran should be limited to 3 months.

lieberman and Berlusconi 248.88 (photo credit: )
lieberman and Berlusconi 248.88
(photo credit: )
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman launched a campaign in Rome on Tuesday to get Russia to cut off contacts with Hamas and Hizbullah, urging Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to raise the issue with Russian leaders when he meets with them next week. Lieberman urged the Italian prime minister during an hour-long meeting to convince the Kremlin that Hamas and Hizbullah were terrorist organizations working against Western interests in the Middle East, specifically the interests of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. According to a statement put out by Lieberman's office, the foreign minister told Berlusconi that he should tell the Russians the two groups should be placed on Moscow's list of terrorist organizations, and that dialogue with them should cease. While the EU considers Hamas a terrorist organization, Hizbullah has not been included on its list of terrorist organizations. Lieberman also told the Italian prime minister that it was important that the US dialogue with Iran be limited to three months, and that if the Iranians failed to stop their nuclear enrichment program after that time, the international community would have to take "active steps." Regarding the Palestinian diplomatic track, Lieberman explained that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was still formulating its policies, but that the basis for the polices must be ensuring Israeli security and developing the Palestinian economy. Lieberman stressed the importance of Palestinian economic development, and expressed interest in a Marshal plan for Palestinian economic development that Berlusconi developed a number of years ago. The plan called for the reconstruction of Palestinian social and economic infrastructure and also included various micro-projects in education, culture and the arts, and infrastructure development. During the meeting, Lieberman extended an invitation to Berlusconi on behalf of Netanyahu to come to Israel along with his ministers, similar to what German Chancellor Angela Merkel did last year when she brought nearly her whole government to Jerusalem for talks with their Israeli colleagues. Lieberman, on his first trip as foreign minister, is scheduled to visit Paris, the Czech Republic and Germany before returning home Thursday. In a related development, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon met with EU ambassadors in Brussels on Tuesday and said Israel was committed to making progress toward a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians, "but it is forbidden to make the relations with Europe hostage to the diplomatic process." In recent weeks a number of European officials have said that an upgrade of Israeli-EU ties was dependent on Israel's commitment to a two-state solution.