LAHORE - The United States and Saudi Arabia wanted Pakistan to play a role to normalise relations between Israel and Palestinians in 2006.

For this purpose, president George Bush and king Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz had sent Jordan King Hussain to Islamabad with their joint message for such a mediatory role by the Musharraf government, disclosed then foreign minister Khursheed Kasuri while speaking in a TV programme yesterday.

He said this was the time when two factions of the Palestinians were trying to get united. Pakistan, he said, concluded that the plan was aimed to keep Iran out of the arrangement.

Kasuri said as foreign minister he had visited Israel using Turkey’s good offices to give a subtle warning to the Jewish state which was selling sophisticated arms to India.

To keep the visit secret, he said, he flew through Libya and Malta so that nobody could guess his destination. At the Turkish airport even lights were switched off so that nobody could spot him, said the former foreign minister, who is now a leader of the PTI.

At his meeting with the Israeli counterpart, Kasuri said, he discussed the implications of Israeli weapons to India. Israel, he said, also offered weapons to Pakistan. The Israeli foreign minister, he recalled, urged that Pakistan recognise the Jewish state.

However, he said, he made it clear that Islamabad would not do so unless Palestine was set up as an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

He appreciated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s initiative to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran.