Bonn Plays Down Planned Visit of Foreign Minister to Israel

The Bonn government has gone out of its way to play down the planned visit to Israel of Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher which was announced in Jerusalem this week. The Foreign Ministry here stressed today that no date has been set for the visit. The Israeli reports said Genscher was due in February, 1982, shortly after President Francois Mitterrand of France visits Israel.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Genscher will visit Israel some time during the first four months of next year. It informed the media of this apparently to dampen the enthusiastic reaction in Israel to the announcement that the West German Foreign Minister had accepted Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s long standing invitation.

The acceptance was conveyed by Bonn’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hildegarde Hamm Bruescher who represented the Federal Republic at the funeral of Moshe Dayan last Sunday. Israeli sources saw this as a sign of a thaw in relations between Bonn and Jerusalem which have been frosty since Premier Menachem Begin’s personal attacks on Chancellor Helmut Schmidt during his Knesset election campaign last spring.

While most German newspapers reported that Jerusalem was eager to host Genscher, the Foreign Minister himself was described as having reservations. Observers here suggested that Bonn intends to watch carefully Israel’s implementation of the Camp David accords before it decides on further diplomatic moves in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Germans will be watching particularly to see if Israel carries out its final withdrawal from Sinai scheduled for mid-April, 1982, sources here said.

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