Ahmed Naseem first Maldivian Foreign Minister to visit Israel

The Maldives’ Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem is currently visiting Israel, the first foreign minister from the country to do so.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that during his visit from May 16-20 Naseem would meet Israeli President Shimon Peres and have dinner with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman, lay a wreath at Yad Vashem and visit other sites throughout the country.

Naseem also yesterday met with officials of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, including President Mahmoud Abbas, and discussed issues relating to the peace process and the Palestinian reconciliation agreement.

Palestine’s News and Information Agency reported Abbas as saying that the peace process had stalled due to Israel’s refusal to stop settlement activities and terms of references for the peace process. Naseem reportedly expressed support for the declaration of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry meanwhile noted that “Israel and the Republic of Maldives have enjoyed diplomatic relations since 1965, [which] were suspended in 1974. Israel was the third state to recognise the Muslim island nation and its ambassador was the first to present his credentials to the president of the Maldives,”

“Relations began to improve at the beginning of the 1990’s. The present government maintains relations of appreciation and friendship with Israel; the two states have signed three agreements in the fields of health, tourism and education.”

Visiting eye surgeons from the Israeli ‘Eyes from Zion’ NGO were recently met by large protests, the burning of Israeli flags in Republic Square and claims from several local religious NGOs that the doctors were seeking to “illegally harvesting organs from non-Jews around the world.”