JERUSALEM (Jan. 20)
The president of the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, a Moslem stronghold, has announced his country will open an embassy in Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv, where nearly all other foreign embassies are located.
Because the legal and political status of Jerusalem is the subject of a dispute between Israel and its Arab neighbors, only Costa Rica and El Salvador have put their nation’s embassies in Israel’s declared capital of Jerusalem.
Askar Akayev, president of Kyrgyzstan, made the announcement after lunching with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Wednesday, the second full day of his three-day state visit to Israel.
Although Israelis were pleased and surprised by the statement, they also noted that Akayev had mentioned a day earlier that he hoped the “Palestinian nation” would soon achieve independence.
For its part, Israel announced it would open an embassy in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan.
Akayev’s visit to Israel is the first by a president of one of the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union.
Israeli officials said the republic is interested in developing economic and scientific ties between the two countries.