TEL AVIV (Feb. 24)
Premier Shimon Peres, who returned home Friday after meeting with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, Italian President Bettino Craxi in Rome, and Rumanian President Nicolae Ceausescu in Bucharest, said the topic which was common at all the meetings was that of an international conference on the Middle East as a possible opening stage for negotiations with the Jordanians and Palestinians who are not members of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Peres said he explained that Israel could not support such a conference because it would be attended by the Soviet Union, which had severed diplomatic relations with Israel, by the People’s Republic of China, which never recognized Israel, by Syria, which wants to destroy Israel, and by the PLO, which is engaged in terrorist acts against Israel. “Anybody who wants an international conference will have to change the international condition,” Peres said he explained each time the idea of an international conference was broached. He said that the time has come for the Soviet Union to renew its diplomatic relations with Israel and for China to establish relations with Israel.
EXCHANGE OF VIEWS WAS CORDIAL
The Premier said that the exchange of views with his hosts “was very frank, very cordial. I was given a fair opportunity to explain our position very carefully” and that Ezer Weizman, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, and himself “really had an open and friendly ear wherever we went.”
Asked if Ceausescu had promised to try and get the Soviet Union to reestablish relations with Israel to facilitate the holding of an international conference, Peres said: “I cannot commit Ceausescu about the steps he may take, but he is fully aware of our position. The minimum we can expect from Soviet Russia is that it should renew relations (with Israel) and to take a more middle rather than a one-sided position” toward the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Rumania is the only Soviet bloc country which has maintained friendly relations with Israel, serving as an intermediary between Israel and the Arabs.
REAGAN REJECTS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
(In the United States, President Reagan reiterated at a press conference in Washington last Thursday night his Administration’s opposition to an international peace conference. “We don’t favor that,” he said. “We don’t believe that there should be that many hands in the pot, just as we’re not envisioning any participation in the negotiations. We have said we’ll stand by and we’ll try to help in any way we can, but these negotiations must be between the Arabs and the Palestinians and the Israelis.”
(Asked about the two days of talks in Vienna between U.S. and Soviet officials on the Mideast, Reagan replied: “These talks were not, had nothing to do with negotiations or anything of that kind. We simply felt that it was time to exchange views with each other and make sure that there couldn’t be any miscalculations that could lead to some kind of confrontation or problem. We brought them up to date on our views and what we thought and they were talking on their own and that’s all.”)
Peres also said, upon his return home, that in the talks with the leaders he and Weizman met “there was a general appreciation about Israel’s decision to withdraw from Lebanon. There was an understanding about the policies we are trying to introduce in the area, and then there was a great interest in what can be done in order to enhance peace on the eastern frontier — with the Jordanians, and to solve the Palestinian problem.”