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Israel losing international 'goodwill': Nigeria

world Updated: Sep 09, 2009 10:33 IST
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Israel's grip on the West Bank in defiance of international opinion is denying it the goodwill it is due, Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe told his visiting Israeli counterpart on Tuesday.

"You are not touching that goodwill because of the distraction of violence, the distraction of holding on too much to land which you had already been asked either through the Camp David accord or indeed through UN resolutions to give up for the sake of peace," he told Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

"You are holding on too tight and I'm speaking to you as a friend," he said. "Let us begin to see now the beginning of the ties of the moderates on both sides and Nigeria is ready to work with those moderates."

Lieberman, who arrived in Nigeria on Monday, said that while Israel wants peace in the Middle East, the ongoing crisis in the region is the result of "conflict between moderate people and extremist people".

"You must understand that the biggest problem of the Middle East is not Isreal-Palestinian dispute," he said.

"The biggest threat for the Palestinian Authority is not Israel but Hamas and (Islamic) Jihad. It is the same situation in Lebanon -- the biggest threat for the Hariri government is not Israel but Hezbollah."

Maduekwe disagreed, saying there were extremists and moderates in both camps.

"We don't share the view that extremism is only an attribute of one side to the conflict," he said. "There are also Jewish extremists, Israeli extremists who have impeded the peace process."

Earlier in the day, Lieberman held trade and investment talks with Nigerian Vice President Goodluck Jonathan in the capital Abuja as part of efforts to improve bilateral ties.

"We are here to preserve our relations. I brought with me a big business delegation, people who want to invest," Lieberman told reporters after a closed-door meeting with Jonathan.

Recalling that his delegation includes representatives of top Israeli companies in the fields of water management, agriculture, medicine and infrastructur, he added: "We hope to increase our business relations."