Israeli defence minister heads to Colombia, US (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 04/15/12)
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Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday left for a five-day
working visit to Colombia and the United States where he was to hold
talks with top officials, his office said.
His first stop will be in Bogota to meet Colombian President Juan
Manuel Santos, his counterpart Juan Carlos Pinzon and Foreign
Minister Maria Angela Holguin, Barak´s office said.
He will also meet Colombia´s military chief-of-staff and other senior
administration officials, the statement said, without indicating what
would be discussed.
Barak will then travel to Washington for talks with US Defence
Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday, after which he would return
immediately to Israel.
Last October, Colombia´s Holguin paid a surprise visit to the region
to try to encourage Israel and the Palestinians to return to direct
talks, which broke down just weeks after they began in September 2010.
Holguin, who met both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, was sent to the region by Santos,
whose efforts at mediation began earlier that month during a visit by
the Palestinian leader.
Abbas had been hoping to secure Colombian backing for a Palestinian
bid to secure full state membership at the United Nations.
But Colombia, which is one of the 10 non-permanent members of the UN
Security Council, opposes the bid, backing the position of both
Israel and the United States which say a Palestinian state can emerge
only through bilateral negotiations and not through a UN vote.
(Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse. 04/15/12)
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