Diplomatic delegations from Pakistan and Indonesia are both in Israel for secret visits this week, according to Jerusalem Post. The Pakistani delegation is headed by Pakistani-American Nasim Ashraf, a former minister of state in former prime minister Pervez Musharraf 's government, the JP report added.
The Pakistani delegation comprises nine members. Four of them are currently living in Pakistan, the rest are from the Pakistani diaspora in the US. It includes a journalist from a Karachi news station, and a British-Pakistani imam, according to i24NEWS.During their visit to Israel, the Pakistani delegation was given tours across Israel. They are also scheduled to meet with President Isaac Herzog later this week, the report added. The report further notes that the delegation includes a Karachi-based journalist. In June, Pakistani journalist Ahmed Quraishi was fired from his show on Pakistan's state television for visiting Israel a month prior.
Pakistan and Israel do not maintain diplomatic ties. However, the two countries recently joined a US-led naval exercise in the Red Sea, alongside Saudi Arabia, Oman, Comoros, Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen.
Israel and Pakistan have made overtures to each other in the past, most notably when the country's foreign ministers met in Istanbul in 2005 following Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
But there has not been any major public push to bring the countries closer. Meanwhile, Israel has grown ties with India in recent years.
Israel attaches particular strategic importance to Pakistan because it is the only Muslim country with an operational nuclear capability and due to its shared border with Iran, i24NEWS said.
The Indonesian delegation in Israel is headed by a "senior official," the Jerusalem Post said. However, Jakarta denied these reports on Tuesday.
Bagus Hendraning Kobarsyih, an official in Indonesia's foreign ministry, said: "As long as Palestine is under Israeli occupation, Indonesia will not open diplomatic relations with Israel."
He said the visit has "never happened and Indonesia's stance will always be the same", adding that Jakarta remained committed to the two-state solution between Israel and Palestine to end the conflict. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world.
In December, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly discussed the prospect of normalising ties between Israel and Indonesia during a visit to Jakarta.
Israeli media also reported that an Israeli delegation of technology and trade entrepreneurs and investors had visited Indonesia in August, and that the trade between the two countries had reached a volume of $500m annually.
In January this year, the Indonesian government also denied reports by Israeli media that officials from the two countries had recently held meetings in Tel Aviv.
Israel's Army Radio had reported that a delegation of Indonesian officials had visited Tel Aviv to discuss strategies related to the coronavirus pandemic but gave no details about when the meeting had taken place.
Addressing a virtual press conference, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Teuku Faizasyah, said: "What we can emphasize here is that there was no interaction between officials of the two countries, because we do not have diplomatic relations."
Faizasyah said Indonesia's stance on the Palestinian issue remained unchanged and its government was actively working "for Palestinian independence under the frame of a two-state solution."
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