BONN (Jul. 8)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin began his historic visit to West Germany today. He was originally due to be here for four days but it was officially announced by the Israeli Embassy in Bonn that he will prolong his visit by one day to meet U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger in Bonn on Saturday. Kissinger is due to hold talks in Bonn Friday evening and Saturday morning with West German leaders. Rabin’s visit to West Germany returns the visit to Israel made by former Chancellor Willy Brandt in 1973 when Mrs, Golda Meir was Premier.
Rabin and his delegation today visited the site of the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp near Hanover and later attended a reception in West Berlin hosted by Mayor Klaus Schuetz and Jewish leaders. West Berlin has a strong Jewish community and the mayor is an outspoken friend of Israel.
EXPECT FRANK TALKS ON MIDEAST
Rabin will begin his talks tomorrow with West German leaders. His talks are expected to include a frank exchange of views on the Middle East with Chancellor Helmut Schmidt which could be of crucial importance considering Bonn’s stated policy of even-handedness in the Arab-Israeli dispute and its influence on other Western European states.
Bonn officials believe that West Germany and Israel should strive to normalize their relations in the future, though keeping the past in mind. They point out that bilateral relations have made enormous strides since diplomatic ties were opened between the two countries ten years ago and there is now a well advanced program of economic, scientific and cultural relations and youth exchanges.
Schmidt is known to seek a detailed briefing from Rabin on his government’s position with regard to a Middle East settlement. West Germany is deeply concerned with developments in that region–not simply for reasons of oil–but because it fears that a stagnation of efforts toward peace could explode into new hostilities. A government spokesman stressed the importance of any positive move by Israel. As Bonn sees it, the Arabs have become more flexible and Israel should respond in kind even if it means taking a calculated risk.
While the Germans subscribe to current American views on the need for Israeli flexibility, they claim to speak primarily in unison with their eight fellow members of the European Common Market. West Germany believes that the Common Market’s Middle East resolution of November, 1973, which Israel criticized sharply for its pro-Arab content, still provides a good basis for the European Economic Community’s Mideast policy, France and Italy have taken a pro-Arab line while West Germany, Britain and Holland have been more moderate.
Rabin is expected to try to convince Schmidt that Bonn should exercise a moderating influence on France with regard to the Middle East and that, for the time being, Europe should stay on the sidelines of the Mideast conflict.