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Israeli, Tunisian ministers meet

Sept. 21, 2004 at 7:37 AM

TEL AVIV, Israel, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The Israeli and Tunisian foreign ministers met for the third time this year and discussed improving relations severed when the intifada erupted.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Tuesday Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met Tunisia's Habib Ben Yahia at the home of Tunisia's ambassador to the United Nations. Shalom was born in Tunisia and came to Israel at the age of 11.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the two "discussed a closening of relations, with a view to restoring relations that were broken off with the outbreak of the intifada in the fall of 2000."

The two had low-level diplomatic contacts.

Ben Yahia sought to encourage Israeli tourism to Jerba and pushed the possibility of Tunisian sponsorship for an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

He also "expressed interest" in Israel's intentions regarding Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Shalom said Israel "does not intend to harm Arafat, but ... the cabinet decision regarding his expulsion stands."

Shalom also is scheduled to meet Omani Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi.

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