Israel says strike forces Medvedev to delay trip

3rd January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Israel has asked Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to postpone a planned visit because Israeli foreign ministry workers are on strike, a senior official said on Monday.

"We asked Russia to postpone the visit, because the strike means we would not be able receive the Russian president as he should be received," Pini Avivi, director of the Israeli foreign ministry's Europe and Asia department, told Israeli military radio.

Avivi said Medvedev had agreed to put off the visit, which had been scheduled for 16-19 January, until a later date.

Israeli foreign ministry employees and diplomats posted overseas have been demanding salary hikes for several months.

In past days they have stepped up their sanctions after talks with the Treasury broke down, refusing to issue entry visas to Israel, help Israeli ministers travelling abroad or coordinate diplomatic visits, like Medvedev's.

They have also said they will not assist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he travels to Egypt later in the week.

In June, Israeli diplomats demonstrated their continuing unhappiness with their salaries by going to work in jeans and sandals instead of the usual business attire.

The labour dispute has also seen employees shirk routine duties, with some visiting foreign dignitaries finding themselves abandoned by their Israeli foreign ministry-assigned drivers and forced to ask their embassies to send cars.

© 2011 AFP

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