In a sign the Foreign Ministry may be switching its focus from dealing primarily with the Palestinians to more "classic" functions involving the rest of the world, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon will travel to South America next week to attend the meeting of the Organization of American States.
Ayalon's visit to Honduras will be a prelude to a visit there later this year by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has also said he will travel to Africa by the end of the year.
Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post that in the last few years Israel had not paid sufficient attention to Latin America, and that his trip was the beginning of efforts to rectify that situation.
He said that Israel had numerous business and political interests in South America, one of which is to "raise the flag" regarding inroads made both by Iran and Hizbullah in the region.
He pointed out that Hizbullah has "sleeper cells" in South America, including those believed to be responsible for the bombings in the early 1990s of the embassy and the Jewish community building in Buenos Aires.
Senior diplomatic officials said that devoting time to South America and Africa represented a significant change in the Foreign Ministry's direction, noting that it had been years since an Israeli foreign minister had traveled to either continent.
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