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Greece Sending Signals to Arab States and PLO That It Intends to Improve Its Relations with Israel

Government officials here appear to be sending signals to Arab states and the Palestine Liberation Organization that Greece intends to maintain its present policy of improving relations with Israel, and that full diplomatic relations between Athens and Jerusalem is the ultimate goal.

Sources here pointed to two recent incidents to support this view. The first was the secret meeting earlier this month between government Ministers and the former PLO representative here, Shaouki Armali; and the second incident was an unusual luncheon given to the departing Israeli diplomatic representative here.

Armali, who is now the PLO’s representative in Belgium and who is said to be a close and trusted associate of PLO chief Yasir Arafat, arrived here July 20 on what was described as a visit of a tourist nature. Nevertheless, Armali met with four Greek Ministers, one of them being Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias.

Media reports indicated that Armali talked with officials on Greece’s improving relations with Israel. Papoulias is reported to have told the PLO official that improved ties with the Jewish State will in no way affect Greece’s relations with the Arab world.

The Foreign Minister pointed out to Armali that there was virtually no reaction to Spain’s establishment of diplomatic ties last February with Israel. Furthermore, Papoulias told the PLO official that economic promises to Greece for support for the Arab cause never materialized.

Shortly after the meeting with the PLO official, Papoulias had a luncheon honoring the departing Israeli representative in Greece, Yeheskel Barnea. This is the first time anything of this sort had taken place. The luncheon was attended by some 25 persons, including five Ministers and many senior government officials. Said Barnea: “I was very flattered and impressed. The atmosphere was more than warm.”

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