TEL AVIV (Aug. 18)
The Israeli-Soviet talks wound up in one short 90-minute session in Helsinki, the Finnish capital, Monday. Neither side would say that the talks had broken down and political sources steered away from any negative description of the meeting.
Israeli delegation spokesman Ehud Gol indicated that the brief session was inevitable as the Soviet side had an extremely narrow mandate — to state the Soviet case, listen to the Israelis and then report back to Moscow.
Israeli spokesmen were at pains to emphasize that the talks had not broken down. The very fact of the direct meeting between official Soviet and Israeli diplomats was important, they stressed. The Israeli delegation said they had anticipated the talks would not last longer than “one or two days.”
In telephone interviews from Helsinki with the prestigious “New Evening” news, an interview television program operated by educational television, and the radio station of the Israel Defense Force, and later with Israel Radio, Gol said that the meeting had been “frank and correct… held in a pleasant atmosphere.” The conversation was carried out in English.
“At the request of the Finns, we set aside two days for the talks. But there was no agenda, and we did not know how long the talks would last,” he said.
EACH SIDE OUTLINES POINTS
Gol said the Soviet delegation outlined its three points dealing with the proposed dispatch of a Soviet delegation to Jerusalem to discuss Russian property matters, and the Israelis had read out their verbal statement stressing the right of Russian Jews to emigrate to Israel to join their families and the freeing of Jewish Prisoners of Zion, and outlining the Israeli view on the Middle East in general.
“The Russians wrote down every word. We then handed them the written text of our verbal statement,” Gol said.
FUTURE CONTACTS INDICATED
Future contacts will be maintained through the regular diplomatic channels, with the Dutch and Finnish Embassies representing the two sides. The Netherlands represents Israel in Moscow, and the Finnish Embassy in Tel Aviv has a Soviet interests section which handles USSR affairs in Israel.
The continued contacts are expected to focus on a request by the Soviets to send a delegation to Israel to deal with consular matters. Israel has insisted that an Israeli delegation be received in Moscow at the same time. The Helsinki delegates have not yet responded to that demand.