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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 September 2005, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
Musharraf meets US Jewish leaders
President Musharraf addresses the American Jewish Congress
President Musharraf made the landmark address in New York
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said his country will take steps to build ties with Israel as the Middle East peace process progresses.

He made the comments at a ground breaking dinner meeting with members of the American Jewish Congress.

He is the first leader of a Muslim nation that has no diplomatic ties with Israel to hold a public dialogue with Jewish leaders.

Israel and Pakistan recently held talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

I am convinced that peace in Palestine will revive the historical ties between Islam and Judaism
President Musharraf

President Musharraf's historic address in New York began with bread being broken and prayers from the Koran being recited.

He was given a standing ovation as he arrived for the meeting at which he called for the establishment of a Palestinian state to end violence in the Middle East and bring security to Israel.

"Israel must come to terms with geopolitical realities and allow justice to prevail for the Palestinians," he said.

"I am convinced that peace in Palestine that does justice to both the Israelis and the Palestinians will bring to a close the sad chapter in the history of the Middle East [and] will revive the historical ties between Islam and Judaism."

He also criticised Islamic societies for failing to embrace modernity.

"Many of us remain wrapped in a time warp, still struggling to reconstruct our political, social and economic systems to respond to the challenges of our times," he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Secret talks

The meeting comes three days after President Musharraf shook hands with Israel's prime minister at the United Nations.

Both countries are said to have held two years of secret talks which culminated in a meeting of their two foreign ministers in Turkey, two weeks ago.

After the talks Pakistan's foreign minister said that his country had decided to "engage" with Israel after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.

But the talks were criticised by hardline Islamic groups in Pakistan.

Pakistan has never recognised the state of Israel, but its neighbour India opened diplomatic ties with the Jewish state in 1992.


BBC NEWS:VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the foreign ministers at the historic meeting




SEE ALSO:
Pakistan-Israel in landmark talks
01 Sep 05 |  South Asia
Pakistan and Israel - new friends?
01 Sep 05 |  South Asia
Pakistan denies Israel invitation
20 Jan 04 |  South Asia


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