Shamir Meets with Foreign Ministers of Five Black African Countries
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Shamir Meets with Foreign Ministers of Five Black African Countries

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Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir held behind-the-scenes meetings with Foreign Ministers of five Black African countries since his arrival here last Tuesday. None of the countries have diplomatic relations with Israel. Shamir reportedly urged the Foreign Ministers, who were not identified, to renew relations with Israel and pointed out that there is nothing to fear in a resumption of diplomatic ties with the Jewish State, according to Shamir’s spokesman, Avi Pazner.

Shamir reminded the Foreign Ministers that since 1981 four African nations — Zaire Cameroon, Liberia and Ivory Coast — have reestablished diplomatic ties with Israel with virtually no repercussions from the Arab world. Only three Black African nations — Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland — retained relations with Israel after Black African countries severed diplomatic ties with Israel following the 1973 Yom Kippur War.


Shamir met with Foreign Minister Mandunju Bula Nyati of Zaire on Monday to discuss Israeli aid programs and the possibility of sending an Israeli delegation of economic advisors to Zaire in the near future. The Zairian official reportedly asked Shamir to speak to American Administration officials regarding America’s lukewarm relations with Zaire, Pazner said.

According to Nyati, the U.S. Congress makes it difficult for Zaire to get the foreign aid it needs. Shamir promised to raise this matter with Secretary of State George Shultz when the two men meet for talks late in the day Monday followed by dinner on a yacht.


Foreign Minister Ioan Totu of Rumania also asked Israel to intervene on its behalf with the U.S. when he met with Shamir Monday. The Rumanian official and Shamir discussed a number of issues, including the possibility of Israel taking up the matter of its Most Favored Nation status with American officials.

Rumania, which benefits from the MFN status, has come under critical scrutiny in light of reported human rights violations and a recent report that a Sephardic synagogue in Bucharest was razed despite repeated assurances that the synagogue would be spared in a massive urban renewal project in the Rumanian capital. Shamir reportedly told Foreign Minister Totu that Israel was pleased with the ongoing Jewish emigration from Rumania and would say so in meetings with American officials.

A representative of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations testified before the House of Representatives in June, saying progress had been made on the human rights fronts and especially on the issue of Jewish emigration from Rumania. Over the past six years, according to this testimony, 25 percent of the Jewish community was permitted to emigrate.

In his meeting with Shamir, Totu categorically denied that Rumania provided military aid to the PLO. He said Rumania supports a role for the PLO in Middle East peace talks but opposes terrorism.

Shamir was also scheduled to meet Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Esmat Abdel-Meguid Monday evening.

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