Dutch F.m. Doubts Usefulness of European Mideast Initiative

Foreign Minister Christoph van der Klaauw of The Netherlands, current chairman of the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community (EEC), said on his arrival in Israel today that he was frankly doubtful that the European initiative in the Middle East could indeed lead to a comprehensive peace in the region. But he said he would continue his efforts to solicit the views of the various parties concerned.

Van der Klaauw’s visit here is the second phase of a fact-finding mission undertaken on behalf of the EEC. Last month he visited several Arab states and met in Beirut with Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat, a contact that infuriated the Israelis.

Officials here said that Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir expressed “displeasure” when he greeted the Dutch diplomat today that he had seen fit to meet the head of an organization that has the avowed purpose of destroying Israel.

Van der Klaauw’s doubts about the European initiative came as a surprise inasmuch as his Middle East mission was undertaken in connection with last year’s Venice declaration by the EEC heads of state which supported territorial compromise and PLO association with the Mideast peace process. Van der Klaauw also told reporters that the EEC Council of Ministers was very much concerned over the crisis in Lebanon but was not planning any initiative or intervention to restore tranquility in that country.

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