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Bosnian, Israeli Foreign Ministers Discuss Middle East Conflict - 2003-12-18

The foreign minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mladen Ivanic held talks with his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom, as he began his three-day trip to Israel. His visit is the first by a Bosnian cabinet member to the Jewish State.

Mr. Ivanic met Thursday with Foreign Minister Shalom, who briefed him on the latest efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mr. Shalom says that during the meeting he outlined a dual approach to help ease tensions in the region.

He says Israel is simultaneously working to revive formal peace talks with the Palestinians, while continuing to ease travel and other restrictions imposed upon them during more than three years of fighting.

The Israeli foreign minister says that during a conference with overseas donors to the Palestinian Authority in Rome last week, he urged the international community to continue working in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He told Mr. Ivanic that Israel, "has no problem with the Palestinian people, just the leadership."

This was a reference to Israel's ban on dealings with the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, whom it accuses of orchestrating much of the violence in the area.

Israel's top diplomat also told Mr. Ivanic that he is pleased with Israel's warming relations with Egypt, saying that the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher, plans to visit Israel soon.

Mr. Shalom praised the Egyptians for attempting to broker a new cease-fire with the Palestinians and urged them to lean on the Palestinian Authority to dismantle terrorist groups and implement its obligations under the road map for peace.