PARIS (Jul. 23)
Premier Shimon Peres will stay in Morocco an additional day for a further talk with King Hassan, Moroccan sources said Wednesday. The Israeli leader who has been Hassan’s guest at his summer palace in Efrana since Monday night, had been scheduled to return to Israel Wednesday evening.
According to the Moroccan sources, he has delayed his departure until noon Thursday local time. Hassan was to go on television Wednesday night to explain why he invited Peres and the results of their talk. Moroccan officials could not say whether he will deliver his address as planned or postpone it for 24 hours.
Reports from Morocco said Peres had a two-hour meeting with Hassan Wednesday morning and in the afternoon conferred with the King’s special counsellor, Reda Ghedira, and with the Foreign Minister and Minister of Information. Earlier in the day he toured the countryside around Efrana, 160 miles southeast of the capital, Rabat.
MEETINGS SHROUDED IN SECRECY
Media coverage of the visit has been scant. The overall impression is one of lavish hospitality for the Israeli Premier and his entourage, banquets and sightseeing tours, interspersed with lengthy working sessions with Hassan.
A report from Israel Wednesday spoke of difficulties over the wording of a joint communique. It is not known whether the Peres-Hassan meetings will wind up with a joint communique or separate media statements.
Given the tight secrecy surrounding the meetings, the atmosphere has been rife with speculation over what is being discussed. Radio Monte Carlo, citing an unnamed Arab source, said the Peres-Hassan talks focussed on Palestinian representation at a future Middle East peace conference. Well placed Israeli sources were said to share that assessment.
KING SAID TO BE PUSHING FEZ DECLARATION
According to Moroccan officials, Hassan was urging the Israeli leader to seek a compromise with the Palestinians and the Arab states to resolve the Middle East conflict. The officials said Hassan sought to explain to Peres the “essence” of the statement adopted by the Arab League at its summit conference in Fez, Morocco in September 1982, at which Hassan, as host, presided.
Moderate Arab leaders have described the Fez resolutions as conciliatory toward Israel. But its key points are unacceptable to Israel. They include Israel’s total withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories and the dismantling of Jewish settlements in those territories; reaffirmation of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization; and the creation of a Palestinian state.
The Fez summit was held three months after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and PLO chief Yasir Arafat got a hero’s welcome in Fez, including a 21gun salute. Some Moroccan officials quoted by the French press Wednesday said Hassan informed Arafat of his intention to invite Peres when they met secretly in Rabat five months ago.
SPARSE COVERAGE IN MOROCCO
The Peres-Hassan meeting is the only public face-to-face contact between an Israeli Premier and an Arab chief of state other than Egyptian President An-war Sadat who went to Jerusalem in November 1977. The Moroccan media has given the historic occasion sparse coverage.
Moroccan newspapers reported Peres’ arrival only on Wednesday. Some ran the story on their front pages, others on inside pages. The State-controlled radio and television reported briefly on the visit. They are expected to withhold comment until after Hassan makes his television address.
Peres was accompanied to Morocco by a team of Israeli television and radio reporters. According to reports from Jerusalem Wednesday, they have sent back no footage.