JERUSALEM (Sep. 5)
Government officials confirmed yesterday reports from Johannesburg that South African Foreign Minister Roelof Botha spent the weekend in Israel on his way to Europe. They declined to confirm that he had met with Israel Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan but a South African Embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv confirmed that Botha had paid “a courtesy call” on Dayan. The spokesman said the South African official had also toured the fortress of Masada.
Botha apparently arrived in Israel late Friday night and left yesterday morning for Geneva where he reportedly was scheduled of meet with Felix Houphouet-Boigny, President of the lvory Coast and Black African elder statesman.
It was clear that Israeli officials would have preferred to keep Botha’s stopover here a secret and were disconcerted when word of it leaked out in Johannesburg. The Israeli reaction was due to the fact that Israel has come under incessant criticism in international forums from Third World and “progressive” countries for its ties with South Africa, even though its diplomats demonstrate time and again that these ties are no broader nor deeper than those which it has with other countries.
In a related development today, the Israeli Foreign Ministry office “emphatically” denied a claim in the latest issue of Newsweek of Israeli-South African arms cooperation. There was no truth in the claim, the spokesman asserted. He also denied a CBS-TV report that Dayan did indeed meet with King Hussein of Jordan during his trip to London two weeks ago.