FM's UK visit shrouded in secrecy

Lieberman and British counterpart express deep concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

UK anti-Lieberman protest 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
UK anti-Lieberman protest 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's first official visit to London was shrouded in secrecy. There was no press conference for British journalists, only a closed briefing for Israeli correspondents and the visit received no coverage at all in the British media on Wednesday. In his first high level meeting as foreign minister, Lieberman met with his counterpart, David Miliband, at the Foreign Office in Whitehall on Wednesday morning. The two discussed how Britain and Israel could continue to work together on a range of issues, particularly in the Middle East. They expressed deep concern with Iran's nuclear ambitions and destabilizing actions in the region and had detailed discussions about the Middle East peace process and the current situation in Gaza. Lieberman and Miliband both emphasized the need for immediate progress toward a comprehensive peace settlement. Both ministers agreed that the best way to tackle the strategic challenges facing the region was through cooperation and dialogue, and promised to remain in frequent contact in order to work towards a just and lasting peace in the region. In the afternoon, Lieberman met with the Conservative Party shadow foreign minister, William Hague. He was scheduled to return to Israel on Thursday morning. A number of fringe anti-Israel groups had put out messages on various Web sites calling to protest against Lieberman, but only a small number of protesters turned out. On Tuesday evening, Lieberman was honored at the home of Jewish National Fund chair Samuel Hayek in Hampstead, northwest London, where a small number of anti-Israel protesters threw bagels at the house. Police intervened and ejected the protesters before Lieberman arrived. In a report on an anti-Israel Web site, one of the protesters said: "The idea was to make him choke on a bagel - after all, Jewish cookery almost killed off Bush when a pretzel stuck itself in his throat, proving that traditional Jewish cookery is inherently anti-fascist."