Here's one for ya'!
There is held this week a major convention, or fair, for world tourism to the Spanish speaking and Latin American markets. This year the fair is being held in Madrid, Spain.
The Israeli Minister of Tourism, Stas Meseznikov, opened yesterday the Israeli exhibit. The Minister, the Israeli Ambassador to Spain, and other Tourism Ministry employees toured the various exhibits of other countries, including neighboring countries like Egypt and Jordan.
The Minister met with lots of different people including the Director General of the Tourism Ministry in the Palestinian Authority, exchanging greetings for success at the exhibition. As a nice side note, they discussed their continued cooperation in tourism including the mutual promotion of the candidacy for the Dead Sea in the finals of the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition.
So as the Israeli delegation toured around the floor, a bit of what has been described as a “pleasant surprise” awaited them. On their arrival at the Iranian exhibit, apparently after a short hesitation, the exhibit manager of the Iranian both presented the tourism options in Iran to the Israeli guests and invited Minister Misezhnikov to visit Iran.
The Mr. Meseznikov said that Israel and Iran were, for many years, “close friends” and he hoped that the day will soon come when Israeli citizens can once again visit Iran. He did take the opportunity to make a political statement by saying that that day depended on the Iranian President's policy towards Israel. He said; “I hope that the Iranian President will cease his incitement against Israel and the Jewish people and will join the family of nations.”
Iran released a statement a short while ago denying an alleged handshake between Meseznikov and his Irianian counterpart that supposedly took place at a reception. Essentially the State news agency said Iran will never recognize Israel – and that the reports were fabricated, pointing the finger deliberately at the British press for seeking to exploit certain agendas.
But if the exchange did take place, probably the most significant thing was the fact that the two men, and may we say countries, found a common good – a common equation and ground, to bring them together and focus on. Meseznikov said that, “Tourism represents a bridge for peace and brotherhood between peoples…”
If it were only that easy.
Middle East Correspondent