Diplomats from some 100 countries, together with military attaches, commanders of peace-keeping forces and church and community leaders from minority groups, gathered at Beit Hanassi on Wednesday evening for the traditional Independence Day reception that the president and foreign minister host for the international community. Speaking extemporaneously, President Shimon Peres, who has twice served as foreign minister, told his guests, "As far as diplomats are concerned, there is a tacit agreement. We have to supply you with news and you have to supply us with friendship." He said it was an agreement that both sides honored. He knew that each of the diplomats was engaged in peace efforts, he said. "I know that each of you is trying to contribute to pacifying the land and bringing an end to bloodshed. Israel is looking for peace with a full heart." Recalling peace agreements made with Egypt and Jordan, Peres said that this was the beginning of change in the Middle East. "Even though the problems are national," he said, "the solutions are global, and we have to improve conditions against terror." Turning to church leaders, Peres said that it was important for them to create a climate "that will make peace acceptable." He looked forward to the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI, and expressed his conviction that the pope would be accepted by all groups "with great respect and much hope." Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieerman, taking his cue from Peres, said that there would be no news that day "at least not from my side." In fact, however, there already had been, as journalists took note of the fact that Egyptian ambassador Yasser Reda had unhesitatingly shaken the foreign minister's hand when conveying congratulations on Israel's 61st anniversary of independence. After reviewing Israel's achievements in different fields, Liberman said, "In my eyes, Israel is the land of opportunity. My personal story is a testament to that. I arrived in Israel in 1978 as a new immigrant. I started out as a student and remember studying for my exams in a security booth, right here, outside of the President's Residence years ago. And today, I stand before you as the foreign minister of Israel. This can only attest to the strength and unity of Israeli society and to the chances that are available to those who wish to explore them."