IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei ended his official visit to Israel this week, striking a positive note for efforts toward a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East. He held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other members of the Israeli Cabinet as part of a three day visit to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, 6-8 July 2004.
"The prime minister affirmed to me that Israeli policy continues to be that in the context of peace in the Middle East, Israel will be looking forward to the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East," Dr. ElBaradei said at a press conference in Jerusalem. "It´s not a new policy, but affirming that policy at the level of prime minister I think is quite a welcome development."
During his visit, Dr. ElBaradei also discussed bilateral cooperation with officials of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission and gave a lecture at the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations of the Hebrew University in Jersusalem.
The visit is part of on-going efforts by Dr. ElBaradei to promote a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. It follows a call by the IAEA General Conference of Member States for countries in the Middle East to open their nuclear facilities to full IAEA inspection and establish a nuclear-weapons-free-zone.