BRUSSELS (Jun. 7)
Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, indicated today that Israel still hopes to secure an associate membership in the European Economic Community, in addition to the trade agreement that was signed here.
She was asked at a press conference, which followed her participation in the signing ceremonies, why Israel had won only a trade agreement and replied that “it is not a closed case.” She said Israel’s initial purpose was to “enter into negotiations; we have concluded an agreement.” The pact gives Israel tariff concessions on a number of its exports to the six-nation European Common Market.
Asked what the pact represented in terms of trade, Mrs. Meir said it “opened the door to Israeli exports” and that it would be up to Israel to provide the necessary quality. She said another value of the agreement was that it opened the possibilities of “dynamic relations” between the EEC and Israel.
Another question dealt with whether there had been any increase in Israel’s danger as a result of Soviet Premier Khrushchev’s visit to Cairo last month and what bearing the visit would have on Israel’s arms purchases. Mrs. Meir replied that to her “great sorrow,” the Soviet Premier failed to say anything to President Nasser of Egypt to impress the Arab ruler with the need for peace with Israel.
She added he had said things which were not new, but he had said them in the presence of Nasser in Egypt. It was not so much what Khrushchev said that mattered, she explained, as the interpretation Nasser put on it of a promise of more Soviet arms. She emphasized that Premier Eshkol did not intend to ask for arms during his current official visit to the United States, despite press reports.
Dr. Walter Hallstein, president of the EEC executive committee, and one of the EEC signers, said that the Commission was “sincerely delighted” with the agreement. He noted that the EEC knew the agreement “does not fulfill all the wishes of our Israeli partners but it should not be forgotten that the negotiations brought us up against problems that were particularly intractable.”
He explained that at the Community level, the problems were completely new and raised questions of principle going beyond the specific issues involved.” Mrs. Meir said in response that the pact was the first stage and she expressed hope for future strengthening of economic relations with the EEC.