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Foreign Ministry Denies Reports Israel, USSR Talk on Resumption of Relations

The Foreign Ministry today emphatically denied press reports about talks between Israel and the Soviet Union on a possible resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries. A senior official said there “have been no such talks and there are none now.” On the other hand, the Foreign Ministry readily agrees that such relations would be most desirable. Foreign Minister Abba Eban said at a news conference on June 22 that the time was ripe for it. Israel would be anxious to have an ambassador in Moscow for a wide variety of reasons, not the least being a more tangible link with Soviet Jewry. But all hints Israel has so far made have been left unanswered, Foreign Ministry officials say. At today’s Cabinet meeting the “publications around the Israeli donation of food and blankets to the Organization of African Unity were mentioned,” it was learned, but the subject as such was not discussed. Officials afterwards stated that the Israeli offer has not yet been withdrawn, nor has a deadline been set for its lapse in case the Africans persist in their refusal to take it up. “It is up to the government to decide whether the offer should be declared lapsed,” officials said. It is to be recalled, however, that the donation itself was decided by officials and not at Cabinet level.