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Shamir: Israel is Interested in Renewing Autonomy Talks with Egypt

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Israel is interested in renewing its talks with Egypt on autonomy for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and to bring other participants into the negotiations, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said here Saturday at a special press briefing for Israeli correspondents. He said the other participants could include Jordan and Palestinian representatives who are not associated with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Shamir made a brief stopover in New York enroute to Central America for a four-day visit. “I believe that the most realistic approach to advance peace in the Middle East is by resuming negotiations in the framework of the Camp David accords,” Shamir said in reply to a question by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

He added, “Camp David is the only tangible achievement for peace so far in the Middle East.” He noted that Israel has invited Jordan to negotiate for peace without pre-conditions. “As far as we understand Jordan, she is reluctant to join in negotiations on her own. She seeks partners for those negotiations. Unfortunately, we can’t provide partners,” Shamir said.

He said, nevertheless, that he thinks the peace process is still alive in the Middle East because talks between Israel and Egypt are still taking place and there are, as well, “contacts with Jordan.”

A PROBLEM WITH WALDHEIM IF ELECTED PRESIDENT

Shamir said in reply to questions that there will definitely be “a problem” if former United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim is elected in Sunday’s Presidential elections in Austria. Waldheim is accused of participation in atrocities as a Wehrmacht officer in the Balkans during World War II.

Shamir said there would be a problem with Israel’s relations with Austria should Waldheim become that country’s President. “We don’t like to interfere in other countries’ elections but when it comes to the Nazi problem, we as a Jewish State cannot be indifferent,” he said. “It is clear that there will be a problem if Waldheim is elected but I don’t want to say now what we will do. When the results are in, we will decide.”

Shamir described the relationship between Israel and the U.S. as one of “trust and understanding and friendship.” The Likud leader, who will replace Shimon Peres as Premier under the rotation of power agreement next October 14, said he did not anticipate any “meaningful changes” in Israel’s foreign policy when he becomes Prime Minister.

He noted in that connection that he is bound by the coalition agreements and the basic guidelines of the unity government. He said he expects that the rotation of power will take place as planned.

VISIT TO CENTRAL AMERICA

Shamir’s first stop on his Central America tour will be in Honduras where he will open the Israeli Embassy in Tegucigalpa. Until now, Israel was represented by a non-resident Ambassador. The new Embassy represents an upgrading of diplomatic relations between Israel and Honduras. He will meet there with President Jose Ascona Hoyo. Shamir will then visit Guatemala for a discussion of economic cooperation with President Vinicio Cerezo Arevalo and other officials. His final stop will be in Costa Rica, to attend the inauguration of President Oscar Arias Sanchez. Israel has always had close relations with Costa Rica which is one of the few countries that moved its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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