ROME (Feb. 21)
Premier Shimon Peres of Israel ended his two-day visit here yesterday by telling a news conference that Israel would welcome a visit by King Hussein of Jordan. He also offered to go to Jordan for peace talks.
“I am sure Israel would like to see King Hussein, would like him to come to Jerusalem, to announce whatever he has on his mind, “just as President Anwar Sadat of Egypt did when he came to Jerusalem in 1978 and addressed the Knesset, Peres said.
The Israeli Premier, who appeared at the news conference with Premier Bettino Craxi of Italy, rejected the idea that the Soviet Union could play a positive role in helping to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, and downplayed the importance of the U.S. Soviet talks on the Mideast which took place in Vienna on Tuesday.
“Why should we negotiate an Israeli problem with a country that does not recognize Israel itself?” Peres said. He also reiterated Israel’s rejection of an international conference, which would include the USSR, on the Mideast. “We are not looking for a show. We are looking for a dialogue.”
Regarding the Palestinians, Peres said “There is a need to find a solution to the Palestinian problem by diplomatic means and not by military means.” He said the situation was more complicated “than it appears just by the slogans or the headlines.”
During his visit to Rome, Peres met with Pope John Paul II, becoming the second Israeli Premier to meet with a Pontiff. Premier Golda Meir met with Pope Paul Vl in 1973. Peres said yesterday that Israel would welcome diplomatic relations with the Vatican. He said this would “contribute to the betterment of relations between the Christian and the Jewish communities.”
Peres did not raise the issue of recognition when he met with the Pope on Tuesday, and the meeting did not change the Vatican’s position on Mideast issues. But Israeli officials were reportedly pleased with the tone of the meeting. The Israeli leader left yesterday for Bucharest for meetings with President Nicolae Ceausescu.