Italy mulling over Israeli offer of Gaza visit for EU ministers

Other News Materials 25 June 2010 15:28 (UTC +04:00)

Italy is considering an invitation from Israel to visit the Gaza Strip along with other European Union partners, the foreign ministry in Rome confirmed on Friday.

The offer, representing a turning point in Israel's policy of shutting Gaza off from contact with the international community, was made Thursday during a visit by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, DPA reported.

"Minister Frattini has taken note of the Israeli proposal and is going to give an answer after having consulted his European and international partners," the ministry said in a statement.

"There was not, therefore, neither an acceptance nor a decision by minister Frattini," it added.

News of the confidential proposal was broken late Thursday by The Jerusalem Post.

The Italian ministry stressed that "the inappropriate and inopportune leaking to the press of issues known to a very restricted circle of people" complicated consultations to be had on the offer.

The Jerusalem Post wrote that Lieberman asked Frattini to form a group of seven European foreign ministers.

A spokesman for Frattini's office told the German Press Agency dpa that the invitation was targeted at "the EU countries most involved in the Middle East conflict," specifically mentioning Britain, Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands.