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Eban Invites Bourguiba to Fix Time and Place for Meeting with Israel

Foreign Minister Abba Eban called on President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia today to make contact with Israel to arrange the time and place for negotiations for a Middle East peace settlement–as Bourguiba has suggested several times in public recently.

Eban, addressing the conference of the International Association of Women Journalists and Writers, spoke in reply to Bourguiba’s remarks at the International Labor Organization meeting in Geneva yesterday.

The Tunisian President called for “a Middle East peace comparable to the one achieved between the two Germanys, the two Korean, the two Vietnam and the one being achieved between the Soviet Union and the U.S.”

Eban said “We too are convinced that the Middle East has much to gain and learn from the attitudes, principles and methods which have enabled many governments to overcome deep reservations.”

He said that “If the Tunisian leader is ready for a dialogue with Israel, it would be fruitful if a Tunisian representative would make contact with an Israeli representative in any capital or international agency in which we are both represented to discuss the timing, location and level of the suggested encounter.”

Eban continued, “I make this suggestion in the sincere hope that it may help to solve problems of contact which are not solved by parallel public statements in different forums.”

BOURGUIBA: PALESTINIANS MUST BE INCLUDED

Bourguiba’s proposal for Arab-Israeli contacts with himself serving as initiator and go-between first appeared in interviews the Tunisian President gave to two Italian newspapers. It was since reported that he succeeded in gaining support for his plan from most of the Arab states and the Palestinian guerrilla leadership. Premier Golda Meir said tonight that Israel had heard nothing concrete from Bourguiba but if and when it did she would be willing to meet with him.

Israeli sources acknowledged privately that Israel tried recently through Italy to establish the seriousness and sincerity of Bourguiba’s offer but that no response was forthcoming.

Bourguiba said in Geneva yesterday that “any Middle East settlement which does not include the Palestinians is doomed to failure.” He added that “Many Israelis are beginning to see the necessity of this, no doubt because Jews who have known persecution can all the more easily understand Palestinian suffering.”

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