Peres Refuses to Attend Stockholm Conference As Example to Israelis

Premier Shimon Peres will not attend the Socialist International meeting in Stockholm this month despite the recommendation by a majority of his Cabinet that he make the trip because of its political importance.

The Cabinet voted 9-4 yesterday endorsing the journey. But Peres decided to forego it as a symbolic gesture to all Israelis not to travel abroad at this time. Last month the government doubled the travel head tax from $150 to $300, plus 20 percent of the air fare, to discourage overseas travel in order to conserve foreign currency. Transport Minister Haim Corfu reported to the Cabinet yesterday that his ministry estimates that about 110,000 Israelis would be deterred by the steep tax from foreign travel during the summer vacation period.

Peres decided to set a personal example, his aides said. Others whose overseas trips have been cancelled for budgetary reasons include Minister of Commerce and Industry Ariel Sharon and Labor Minister Moshe Katzav. But Communications Minister Amnon Rubinstein left for Tokyo this week. The Foreign Ministry insisted that he go because his will be the first visit to Japan in more than 20 years by an Israeli Cabinet minister.

The Cabinet wanted Peres to go to Stockholm because the Socialist International meeting will bring together the Prime Ministers or political opposition leaders of most Western European countries.

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