JERUSALEM, Feb. 24 (JTA) — Israeli and Yemeni officials are discussing opening interest offices in each other’s countries as a first step toward establishing official ties. Foreign Minister David Levy on Monday confirmed reports that the director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Eitan Ben-Tsur, had met over the weekend in Europe with Yemen’s foreign minister. “We are maintaining channels of communication,” Levy told Israel Radio during a visit to China this week, adding that Israel was moving “toward the main thing — another country with which we can open an interest office.” Further confirmation came from Yemen, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh told reporters that his country supports the normalization of ties with Israel and that contacts were under way. An Arab journalist at the briefing told Israel Radio that Saleh also said Israelis would soon be able to visit Yemen on Israeli passports. As a first step toward expanded ties, Yemeni officials will allow up to 10,000 Israelis of Yemeni background to visit Yemen and allow Israeli companies to invest in Yemen, according to the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot. Located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, the Republic of Yemen was formed in 1990 by the Yemen Arab Republic and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.