WASHINGTON (Sep. 15)
Israeli Premier Shimon Peres and Secretary of State George Shultz agreed Monday that the Soviet Union cannot participate in an international forum on the Middle East unless Moscow restores diplomatic relations with Israel and allows Jews to freely emigrate. They also stressed that such a forum cannot be a substitute for direct negotiations.
The two leaders expressed this policy to reporters after they met together over a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, prepared by Shultz’s wife, Helena, at the Shultz home followed by a meeting including their aides at the State Department.
The Israeli Premier met with President Reagan at the White House later Monday. He was also scheduled to tour the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum with Vice President George Bush who will host a dinner for Peres at the State Department Monday night.
Peres at his summit conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last week agreed that Israel and Egypt would see if an international forum to deal with the Middle East could be set up for 1987. King Hussein of Jordan has said he needs an international forum as an “umbrella” for talks with Israel.
“The essence of the peace process is direct negotiations such as those which have proved so fruitful between Israel and Egypt,” Shultz said. He said an international forum could be useful if it was aimed at the “achievement of direct negotiations.”
Peres, stressing that Israel was trying to accommodate Jordan, said that “an international forum cannot be a substitute for direct negotiations, but a support for direct negotiations. It cannot impose a solution.”
REGARDING THE SOVIETS
As for the Soviets, Shultz said if they want to be included in the Mideast peace process they must restore diplomatic relations with Israel, “treat Jews in the Soviet Union decently and those who wish to leave ought to be allowed to leave.” Shultz also said the Soviets must also have “a constructive attitude toward what’s going on.”
Peres agreed. “If they (Soviet Union) want freedom and peace they must start at home,” he said. The Israeli leader expressed his gratitude to Reagan and Shultz for their concern for Soviet Jewry.
Both Shultz and Peres expressed a belief that the prospects for peace had improved in the Mideast. “We see a new acceptance in the region that there is no war option,” Shultz said. “The people affected by this conflict want peace.” Peres said the peace process is part of peace. “When you are trying to achieve peace you are beginning to live at peace,” he said.
Peres’ two-day visit to Washington is a sort of valedictory appearance for him since he exchanges roles with Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir in October.
Shultz noted that they had gone over all that had been accomplished since Peres came to Washington in October 1984 shortly after becoming Prime Minister. Among these he listed a “measure of stability” on the Israel-Lebanon border, the improved relations between Egypt and Israel which he said was the “key building block in the peace process,” and Israel’s improved contacts with African nations.
Both Peres and Shultz stressed the improvement in Israel’s economy and the U.S. help in going from triple digit inflation to about 20 percent.
Shultz also underlined the improvements in the “quality of life” for Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza. He welcomed Jordan’s decision to aid the area and said the U.S. is also helping and hopes it can do more. But he emphasized that this is “not a substitute for negotiating a solution to the Palestinian problem.”