UNITED NATIONS (Sep. 22)
Premier Shimon Peres said after a meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze here Monday afternoon that they had discussed “steps to arrive at full normalization” of relations between Israel and the Soviet Union. He called their talk “an opening of the issues.” (See related background report, P.4.)
Peres said at a briefing for Israeli correspondents that he and the Foreign Minister had discussed three subjects: relations between their countries, Soviet Jewry and the chances of an international conference for Middle East peace. He said both had promised to “think about” what the other said and agreed to continue negotiations but nothing definite was arranged.
Peres said he told Shevardnadze that “Jewish history will be richer if we find a solution to the problem of Soviet Jewry” and Communist history would not be the poorer for it.
Their meeting, in the South Lounge at UN headquarters, lasted an hour and 20 minutes. It had not been expected to run longer than a half hour. Present with Peres was his chief advisor, Nimrod Novick. Shevardnadze had only a translator with him. He spoke in Russian and Peres in English.
‘WE DID BEGIN A DIALOGUE’
Peres said he found the Soviet diplomat to be “open, a thinking man, not dogmatic” and also humorous. Their discussion, he said, “symbolized the search for steps toward normalization (of relations) between Israel and the Soviet Union.” However, he stressed, all the problems between the two countries cannot be resolved in the course of 80 minutes. “But we did begin a dialogue,” he said.
Peres characterized the talk as informal and said the fact it was held meant an opening up of relations. Israel has had no diplomatic ties with the USSR since Moscow broke relations during the 1967 Six-Day War. Peres met briefly with Shevardnadze at a diplomatic reception at the UN last year. In 1984, Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir met at the UN with then Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.
The Peres-Shevardnadze meeting was not on the agenda of Peres’ current visit to the U.S. and caused him to postpone his return to Israel by one day. According to some sources here, it was arranged by the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Meir Rosenne.
Peres spoke briefly to reporters as he left the meeting. He told them it was a discussion of what steps had to be taken to normalize Israel-Soviet relations.
Shevardnadze, who left the meeting separately, was quoted as saying his talk with Peres was “very serious” and included such matters as bilateral relations, questions related to the Middle East and some of the problems involved in an international conference on the Middle East.