Pakistan says Islamabad's decision to diplomatically engage Israel following its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was taken to provide an "impetus" to the Middle East peace process.
The comments by Pakistani officials came Thursday, following the breakthrough meeting in Turkey between Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri and his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom.
Mr. Kasuri said the meeting should demonstrate to Israel that the Islamic world will respond positively if Israel respects the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to live in freedom and peace in their own homeland. Mr. Shalom described the meeting as "historic," and said he hoped it will pave the way for an "era of peace."
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said his country will not recognize Israel until the establishment of a Palestinian state. He also tried to placate Pakistan's hard-line Islamist groups by describing the meeting in Turkey as an "indirect contact." But those groups have condemned the talks and vowed to stage a day of protest on Friday against the developments.