JERUSALEM (May. 8)
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir will visit Britain and Italy next week and confer with his opposite numbers, Lord Carrington and Emilio Colombo, it was announced here today. The trip will be Shamir’s first solo visit abroad as Foreign Minister. He accompanied Premier Menachem Begin to Washington last month.
The trip is seen here as especially important in view of the evolving “European initiative” on the Mideast, which Carrington in particular has been enthusiastically sponsoring. Both Israeli and European sources say the “initiative” has by no means gelled yet. There is no specific and agreed formulation among the nine European Economic Community (EEC) countries on how to go about amending Security Council Resolution 242 or when to try.
But there is apparently a common feeling in Europe that if, as anticipated, the May 26 target date for the autonomy talks passes without much progress, the Europeans should take action if only to keep the diplomatic momentum up during the immediate pre-election and post-election period in the U.S.
Shamir’s visit is not official. He was invited to England by the British Herut movement to address a Jerusalem Day rally. But the normal procedure is for a visiting Foreign Minister to call on his colleague. Shamir is anxious to intensify Israel’s dialogue with Europe. He is personally acquainted with Colombo since the Italian diplomat served as President of the Council of Europe when Shamir was Speaker of the Knesset. Shamir will convene a meeting of Israel’s European ambassadors, probably in Rome, during his trip.
In a recent interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, he said he never agreed with the policy in force in Jerusalem for the past decade whereby Europe was told, in effect, to keep out of Mideast peace-making and leave everything to the U.S.
Shamir indicated that he thought his predecessors had tended to underestimate the growing economic and political importance of Europe as a factor in Mideast politics. He believes, moreover, that a more energetic information effort could stem the tide towards support for the Palestine Liberation Organization which has been sweeping some European capitals.