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Eec Eager for Talks with Arabs

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Belgian Foreign Minister Renate van Eslande told newsmen here yesterday that in seeking to open wide-range discussions with 20 Arab nations, the European Community hopes to participate in the economic and cultural development of the Mediterranean countries and thereby contribute to peace and stability in this region.

A European contribution to peace in the Middle East is in line with the Nov. 6 EEC resolution which called for a European role in a Middle East settlement, van Eslande said. He noted it also concurred with his earlier statements defining Europe’s role in a Mideast settlement as primarily economic. Late last Nov., van Eslande had said that Europe’s major contribution to peace in the Mideast would most likely be in the form of economic programs.

At the same press conference, Walter Scheel, chairman of the EEC Council of Ministers, said that a dialogue between Israel and the European community “would be of another nature” since Israel is not a developing nation. He said the nine ministers yesterday had also agreed that a concrete formulation of an EEC Mediterranean policy should be reached as soon as possible.

MARSHALL PLAN FOR ARAB NATIONS

Scheel will make a tour of the Arab countries as a first step in “a formal dialogue” between the European Community and the Arab world. He will reportedly brief his EEC colleagues of Arab views on possible Euro-Arab cooperation on his return from his Arab tour. His itinerary has not yet been determined.

The EEC is currently discussing a global policy with five Mediterranean countries–Israel, Spain, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Scheel said he had suggested the Council come up with a man-date for final negotiations with these countries at its next meeting in Luxembourg on April 1. In this way, final negotiations could be underway by the end of April, he said.

The Dutch are said to have suggested during yesterday’s session that the community should develop its political and economic dealings with Israel while the Euro-Arab conference preparations develop. In this way the Dutch hope to reassure Israel that an EEC-Arab conference would not be to her detriment, observers here noted. Observers here see the EEC acceptance of what has been called the “Marshall Plan” for the Arab nations as a major victory for France which has been pushing for a Euro-Arab conference.

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