ROME (Jan. 10)
Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan is meeting here today with Premier Giulio Andreotti and President Giovanni Leone. Later he will receive at his hotel the Vatican’s “Foreign Minister” Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. The prelate, one of the Pope’s closest advisors, is calling on Dayan to prepare his meeting with Pope Paul VI on Thursday and also as a rare act of personal courtesy to the Israeli minister.
Dayan, who yesterday started a four-day official visit to Italy, last night called on Italy and to other members of the European Economic Community (EEC) to stop hindering current peace moves between Israel and Egypt and adapt a more balanced policy in the Middle East.
The Israeli minister launched this appeal yesterday first during a three-hour meeting with Foreign Minister Arnaldo Forlani and later, in the toast he proposed at the official banquet given by Forlani in his honor.
“The European Economic Community has in recent years on a number of occasions taken a position on the Middle East conflict which appeared to us to be unbalanced and not conducive to the peace-making process,” Dayan said in his toast. He added: “This is true especially now that we have reached the stage of direct, face-to-face negotiations with the largest of our Arab neighbor states–Egypt.”
Continuing, Dayan stated: “I feel certain there is a sincere desire for peace and for serious constructive negotiations towards that end on the part of both Israel and Egypt. Europe’s role, in our view, should now be to strengthen the two sides in this resolve and not to try and formulate solutions of its own.”
Diplomatic sources here said Dayan was referring to several joint European statements on the Middle East and especially to that issued last summer in London by the nine EEC foreign ministers. Israel is especially unhappy with past Italian policy statements, generally considered pro-Arab and anti-Israeli.
CALLS FOR MORE BALANCED POLICY
The sources said that in the last few months the Italian position has changed to a certain degree. Leone was one of the first European leaders to welcome Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s decision last November to visit Israel.
In his private meeting with Forlani, Dayan also pressed Italy to adopt a “more balanced” policy on the Middle East. Dayan, reportedly, told the Italian Foreign Minister that Rome could play an important role in the Mediterranean if it were to be more neutral and constructive in its approach to the Israel-Arab conflict.
Dayan also discussed Israel’s trade relations with the EEC, which Italy. Itself a major citrus exporter, is trying to limit. This evening, Dayan is giving a reception for the Italian government and tomorrow is scheduled to visit the island of Sicily after which he will preside at a conference of Israeli ambassadors in Europe.