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Eshkol Optimistic on Possibility of Israel’s Link to Common Market

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Levi Eshkol, Israel’s Finance Minister, who is now busy conferring with various top officials of European governments regarding Israel’s desire for a link with the European Common Market, told a news conference here today that he has found “considerable improvement” in the attitude of a number of governments to Israel’s Euromart plans. He said he is convinced now that “a solution to Israel’s Common Market problems will be found, sooner or later.”

The Israeli Finance Minister returned tonight to Brussels, where the Common Market’s Council of Ministers–representing the six nations in Euromart–opened its March session today. In Paris, Mr. Eshkol met today with the new French Minister of Finance, Valery Giscard de Staing.

At Brussels, tomorrow, Mr. Eshkol is to meet with Professor Walter Hallstein, of Germany, president of the European Economic Community’s executive committee, and with the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg. The six nations belonging to the Common Market are France, Italy, West Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.

At his press conference, Mr. Eshkol outlined what Israel believes to be the “minimum and adequate” results it hopes to achieve with the approval of the EEC Ministerial Council, Israel expects to ask that a special EEC Commission, which has already surveyed the situation concerning Israel and the EEC, make concrete recommendations concerning the EEC-Israeli relationships. Israel also seeks the establishment of a mixed body, consisting of representatives of the EEC and of Israel, to examine the existing problems and work toward their solution.

OPPOSITION TO LINKING ISRAEL TO COMMON MARKET IS WEAKENING

Most foreign statesmen with whom Mr. Eshkol has conferred have given assurances that they will support Israel’s stand and that they understand Israel’s particular problems. These include even the Italian Cabinet Ministers, the Italian Minister of Agriculture among them. The latter has shown the same understanding exhibited by his Cabinet colleagues when Mr. Eshkol explained that Israel’s citrus output is too small to endanger Italy’s citrus export market.

Israel, said Mr. Eshkol, is prepared to cooperate with Italy in exchanging production and marketing information. The Italian Minister of Agriculture has agreed with this view, and an Italian citrus delegation is due to visit Israel this month.

France’s Foreign Minister, Maurice Couve de Murville, with whom Mr. Eshkol conferred here on his last visit a fortnight ago, has given a concrete undertaking to the effect that “something will be done to find a solution to Israel’s problems during the March meeting of the EEC Ministerial Council.” Mr. de Murville is chairman of the current Ministerial Council session.

Mr. Eshkol said he is not yet sure that the Israel plans for a link with Euromart will be definitely raised during the current session. He added, however, he is convinced that a change for the better has occurred in France’s attitude toward Israel’s Common Market plans, and reiterated his belief that a concrete solution will be found.

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