Pakistan, Israel held secret contacts for 'decades': reports AFP


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Israel engaged in secret diplomacy for decades before embarking on historic talks in Turkey last week, reports quoted Pakistan's foreign minister as saying. Khurshid Kasuri was reportedly speaking after meeting his Israeli cou

"As far as this process of engagement [with Israel] is concerned ... there had been back-channel contacts for decades and now a lot started appearing in the newspapers as well," Kasuri told state television. "But, we felt that the time has come that we must go public," Kasuri said. Leading English-language daily The News reported that Kasuri said Pakistan and Israel were engaged in "secret contacts with each other for the last more than 10 years." The meeting in Istanbul followed Israel's unprecedented pullout from the Gaza Strip last month, which was welcomed by mainly Muslim Pakistan. "The main reason driving us is that we feel we ought to play a role in the peace process between Palestine and Israel and you cannot play any role whatsoever if you are not even prepared to talk to one party," Kasuri was quoted as saying. Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has denied the move is a prelude to recognizing Israel, saying that will only happen when a Palestinian state is created with Jerusalem as its capital. However, there have been reports for years of behind-the-scenes meetings between the two countries. In a 2000 paper, an Israeli researcher claimed the two countries began secret engagements more than half a century ago. P.R. Kumaraswamy, of Israel's Tel Aviv University, said this secrecy enabled Pakistan's rulers to maintain regular contacts with Israel even while maintaining public opposition to the Jewish state. - AFP

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