Lithuania has initiated a historical visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Brussels to meet with EU foreign ministers, diplomats confirmed on Tuesday.
Benjaminas Netanyahu
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"Lithuania has initiated a meeting between EU foreign ministers and the Israeli prime minister during the Foreign Affairs Council (meeting) on Dec. 11," Rasa Jakilaitienė, spokeswoman for the Lithuanian foreign minister, told BNS.

Lithuania has in the past decade become one of the strongest diplomatic supporters of Israel in the EU. Many other European countries take a tougher stance toward Israel over the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius says that direct dialogue is necessary to resolve differences.

"We are seeking an EU-wide dialogue on issues that are important to the bloc and Israel. Direct dialog is of paramount importance. We can seek to bring positions, which are sometimes far apart from each other, closer only if we listen to arguments put forward in a discussion," Linkevičius said in a comment to BNS.

"We have been discussing the possibility of arranging such a meeting for a long time now," he added.

Observers say that Vilnius' pro-Israeli policy could be partly due to coordination of diplomatic positions with the United States and to the history of Lithuanian Jews. Also, Lithuania and Israel have recently stepped up their bilateral military and economic relations.

The Jerusalem Post has reported that it will be the first visit by an Israeli prime minister to Brussels in more than two decades.

BNS
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