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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Havel Affirms Israeli Peace Efforts

JERUSALEM -- Visiting Czech President Vaclav Havel said Tuesday that he believes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to make peace with the Arabs even if his methods differ from those of his dovish predecessors.


"It is definitely not true that he is not interested in peace, in safety, and in lasting security in the region," Havel told a news conference after a meeting with Netanyahu.


The two leaders signed an agreement on protecting investments.


Netanyahu suggested there may be an increased role for European nations once the faltering peace process is back on track and a figure such as Havel would be a welcome asset.


"I see a role for President Havel because he is a decent and far-sighted statesman and we could always be assisted by the likes of him," Netanyahu said.


Havel said Israel and the Czech Republic "are joined together by thousands of different kinds of threads."


"The Jewish community in our country has been an important part of our history, culture, and spiritual lives ... and our country has been of assistance to Israel [since] the beginning of the state," he said.


Soon after his arrival Monday, Havel toured the site of a Sept. 4 suicide bombing by Islamic militants.


"If you want to have peace, you have to have courage," Havel urged, drinking beer in a cafe.


His visit brought new life to the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, where business has been slow since the blast that killed five Israelis and three assailants.


Israel and the Palestinian territories are Havel's last stop on a weeklong Middle Eastern visit that included Lebanon and Jordan.


Accompanying the former dissident are his wife Dagmar Havlova, his justice and trade ministers and a 25-member business delegation.