The US, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday will make his first visit to Europe since assuming office in March, for talks in two countries whose leaders are among the friendliest on the continent: Italy and France, the Israeli Jerusalem Post newspaper reported.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Berlusconi and other top Italian leaders on Tuesday, and then proceed to Paris on Wednesday for a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, with whom he has established a close relationship over the years. Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell in Paris on Thursday. Government sources said the situation in Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process, and bilateral issues would top Netanyahu's agenda both in Rome and in Paris.
In Rome, he is to press Berlusconi to limit Italy's trade relations with Iran. That trade totals some $6 billion annually. Regarding Iran, the prime minister is expected to express his position on the ongoing protests in Iran and submit guarantees of the principle of a demilitarized Palestine.
France and Italy criticized Netanyahu's speech at Bar-Ilan University, stating that Palestinians will not agree to establish a demilitarized Palestine.
Netanyahu, who said in his speech that Israel would insist on international recognition and guarantees of the principle of a demilitarized Palestine, is expected to spell this out in greater detail in Rome and Paris.