Accessibility links

Breaking News

Israelis, Palestinians Hold Unofficial Talks in Japan - 2003-05-20

Israeli and Palestinian delegates at unofficial and low-key talks in Japan are calling for their governments to implement the so-called road map for peace.

The group of Israeli and Palestinian government, business, and academic leaders drew up a list of steps they say will build peace in the Middle East.

Kohei Hashimoto heads the Institute for New International Political Systems, which organized the informal talks in Tokyo. "We agreed that [to] the end to all form of terror and violence. And, second, a two state solution to the peace process. And, third, both parties to declare in a clear manner the acceptance of the road map. And, fourth, the end of occupation [of parts of Palestinian territory by Israel]. Fifth, economic cooperation," he said.

The delegates discussed how their governments should implement the so-called roadmap for Middle East peace, backed by the United States, the United Nations, and several governments.

At a news conference wrapping up the talks, Palestinian Cabinet Affairs Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said following the roadmap hinges on cooperation between his government and the Israelis. "If we and the Israeli government will not be able to cooperate together, in order to implement and meet these commitments, the security and the political ones, we think that the chance for success will be very limited, if not a nil chance," Mr. Abed Rabbo said.

Participants say the two days of talks were aimed at building trust as a step toward ending the violence in the Middle East. Former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said there will be more meetings.

"The discussions here, which were both ideologically but also pragmatic, were another stage toward cooperation or tighter cooperation between the two parties. And that it was just not one shot, but it will continue in the region, in other places and also in Japan in the near future," Mr. Beilin said.

Both Mr. Abed Rabbo and Mr. Beilin, who say they come from the peace camps in their communities, stress that they were speaking in Japan as individuals rather than representatives of their governments.