JERUSALEM (Mar. 9)
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol may meet with West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard next month, it was reported here today, The report came against the background of a total blackout on the content of the talks now underway between Dr. Kurt Birrenbach, Chancellor Erhard’s personal emissary, who arrived in Israel Sunday night. He was understood to have brought the offer of the West German Government to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
Dr. Birrenbach, a leader in the West German Parliament, conferred with Premier Eshkel, Forcign Minister Golda Meir, Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres, and Dr. Felix Shinnar, head of the Israel Purchasing Mission at Cologne. He reportedly indicated that West Germary was prepared to establish immediately diplomatic relations at the Embassy level. He was expected to remain in Israel for several days for further talks.
Israel was understood not to be in any rush to decide, A major point of the talks reportedly was the issue of West Germany’s suspension last month of the final shipment to Israel of a multi-million dollar arms agreement, While the Chancellor has reiterated his willingness to “compensate” for the suspended arms, Israel is insisting that the original agreement be fulfilled. It was assumed that Dr. Birrenbach took this Israeli stand into consideration before coming to Israel. Whether he brought an alternative proposal was not revealed.
The length of the talks, which were continued today, indicated that the full ramifications of Israeli-West German relations, including West Germany’s current troubles in the Middle East, were discussed.
BEN-GURION WELCOMES WEST GERMANY’S RECOGNITION OFFER
Former Premier David Ben-Gurion today said Chancellor Erhard’s proposal for full diplomatic recognition of Israel was an “important step.” The former Premier said that it was regrettable that it had been taken “so late” but it was to be welcomed all the same.” The report of a possible Erhard-Eshkol meeting cited Premier Eshkol’s plans to meet with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson next month in London. The report said that the meeting between the Israeli and West German leaders might take place during the Eshkol visit to the continent.
Israeli newspapers continued their comment today on the new Israel-West German developments, Davar, the leading labor daily and pro-government organ, said that the fact that the Bonn initiative on diplomatic ties came as a reaction to Egyptian President Nasser’s “blackmail” did not diminish its importance. The daily added that the decision which the Israel Government must make “is by no means easy.”