ROME (Dec. 18)
Maurice Fischer, Israel’s Ambassador to Rome, declared today in an official statement that it was necessary “to affirm that the pilgrimage of Pope Paul VI to the Holy Land has an exclusively religious significance, as he himself has declared.”
The envoy issued the statement to correct “erroneous interpretations” which he said had been given to the visit to the Vatican yesterday by Theodore Kollek, director-general of the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, and Col. Joseph Nahmias, Israeli police inspector general. The two officials Joined Dr. Fischer at a meeting in the Vatican yesterday to work out final details of the Israeli portion of the Pope’s visit to the Holy Land next month.
The meeting touched off speculation in the Italian press concerting the status of Jerusalem, which some governments still refuse to recognize as Israel’s capital. The envoy said today that he had received instructions from the Israel Government to clear in Rome all technical details of the Pope’s visit and of the security of the Pope and his entourage while they were in Israel on January 5. He added that Mr. Kollek and Col. Nahmias had come to Rome to assist him in those details.
“Any political interpretation given to my contact with the Vatican, or the presence of the two Israeli officials, be it in a positive or negative sense, are without foundation,” Ambassador Fischer said in his statement.