SLUG: 3-312035 Israel / Pakistan
TITLE= ISRAEL / PAKISTAN S-ONLY
BYLINE= LARRY JAMES
INTRO: An Israeli cabinet member says he will soon be traveling to Pakistan, signaling a warming in relations between the two countries. From Jerusalem, V-O-A's Larry James reports on the trip -- the first by an Israeli official.
TEXT: Agriculture Minister Israel Katz says he will be traveling to Pakistan in March, as part of a United Nations delegation. He says Islamabad is aware that he is coming.
Mr. Katz told Israel Radio he attaches great importance to the visit, which he says comes against the backdrop of improving relations between Israel and Pakistan.
The two countries do not have diplomatic ties. Israel has built close relations with Pakistan's long-time rival India, in recent years, but Mr. Katz says closer links with Pakistan would not interfere with or harm ties with India.
The Israeli daily newspaper "Maariv" says senior officials from both countries have met secretly, in recent weeks, in Italy and the United States, for talks on economic relations. It says Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf could meet as early as this weekend, when both men take part in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
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