Ted Turner, former head of CNN Cable News Network, arrived in Israel on Sunday as part of a UN sponsored delegation to try to find ways of improving the overall situation in the Middle East. “We came here to learn, and offer any help we can” Turner said, as his delegation, which includes former UN Secretary General Kofi Anan. The delegation, representing an organization called The United Nations Foundation, arrived for talks with both Israeli and Jordanian leaders. The foundation, of which Anan only joined a few days ago, includes known personalities from all over the world, and includes Queen Rania, wife of King Abdullah of Jordan. The foundation’s main role is giving assistance in humanitarian projects which can be beneficial to local inhabitants and help promote peace.

“We want to learn what is needed in the region, and where we can give the most help” Tuner was quoted a saying, after being greeted by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. When asked what he thought concerning CNN, which he founded, being removed from i the programming of the HOT Israeli cable company, Turner replied that even though he is no longer connected with CNN it would be “very sad” if it is taken off the air by HOT.

Both Turner and Anan said they are very happy that Shimon Peres is now President of Israel, saying that they consider Peres as a great man and champion of world peace. “You have been a ray of light and a beacon of hope to both your country and the world” Anan told Pres during a reception held at Peres’ residence at Beit Hanasei.

One of the important issues the Foundation is involved in is finding ways to improve the world’s environment. When taken to a special project at the former Ayalon garbage mound, outside of Tel Aviv and now being made into a park, Turner noted that a small country like Israel must find ways to improve the quality of the environment; and that projects such as the park, in which the mound will become part of a scenic public park and recreation center, is an excellent way to deal with what was once an obnoxious and polluting public eyesore.

President Peres told the delegation that he is happy to see that the Foundation is involved in projects that can be beneficial not only to the cause of peace but in improving the individual lot of people in areas such as the Middle East. Peres also said that since oil is a big factor in long term chances for peace, and since many oil producing nations are located within the Middle East, greater efforts must be made to find alternative energy sources so that oil cannot be use effectively as a “weapon” against countries such as Israel. Peres also told the delegation that he is happy the Europeans are finally waking up to the dangers of countries such as Iran in respect to developing nuclear weapons.

The delegation has invited Peres to also become a member of the Foundation, saying that they would be “delighted to have him become a member”. Other people attending the reception included some who were involved in drafting the 1994 Oslo Peace Accords, including ex government minister Anmon Lipkin-Shahak.