Israeli diplomats meet Indonesian officials

Israeli diplomats met this week with Indonesian government officials in a rare visit to the world's largest Muslim country, Israeli officials said Wednesday. Israel was represented by the deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry's Asian Desk and the Israeli ambassador to Thailand , ministry spokesman Mark Regev said. Regev would not disclose the identity of the Indonesians.

An Israeli official who wished to remain anonymous because talks are at an early stage identified the Indonesians as government officials. Israel and Indonesia , the largest Muslim country, do not have diplomatic relations, and meetings between them could have political repercussions for the Indonesians. The meeting took place Tuesday on the sidelines of an international conference in Jakarta , and was a sign that the two countries "can move in the right direction" toward improving relations, Regev said.

" Israel sees no reason whatsoever why our bilateral relationship with Indonesia cannot be improved," Regev said. Indonesia has kept ties with Israel cool during more than five years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, although Israel has repeatedly expressed a willingness to improve relations. As part of its support of Palestinian efforts to obtain independence, Jakarta said earlier this year that it would be interested in opening a mission in the Palestinian areas.

Last year, after Israel 's Gaza Strip pullout, the foreign ministers of the two countries met secretly, the highest-level meeting since their leaders met in 1993. Israel sent Indonesia aid to help in relief efforts after the country was hit by a tsunami. Israel has ties with several Muslim countries, namely Turkey , which is considered one of its closest allies in the region, reports the AP.


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