JERUSALEM (Sep. 7)
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Egypt’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Boutros Ghali, will meet shortly to discuss the progress of “normalization between the two countries,” Israeli officials said today. They said the meeting was called at Egypt’s initiative in view of Israel’s complaints–aired by Shamir–that normalization was proceeding much too slowly and grudgingly on Egypt’s part.
No date was announced for the meeting. That matter is complicated by the Rosh Hashanah holiday which begins Wednesday night and by Shamir’s plans to fly to New York early next week. He will be gone for three weeks. The Israeli Foreign Minister is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on September 29. He will also visit Europe.
Shamir told reporters last week that there could be thousands of commercial contacts between Israel and Egypt if the Cairo authorities stopped discouraging them. He also alleged that Egyptians seeking visa to visit Israel were sometimes questioned by the secret police which deterred other potential visitors.
Shamir, however, softened his criticism over the weekend. He acknowledged, in a radio interview, that Egypt was under pressure from other Arab countries and that 30 years of hostility toward Israel could not be overcome quickly. Israeli observers noted that the fact that Cairo sought a meeting between Ghali and Shamir indicated President Anwar Sodat’s determination to improve the atmosphere between the two countries prior to the projected summit meeting later this year between himself, Premier Menachem Begin and President Carter.