BONN (Dec. 4)
Israeli Premier Yitzhak Shamir qualified his long-standing opposition to an international conference for Middle East peace in a wide-ranging interview published in the West German daily, Die Welt, Thursday.
He also repeated Israel’s strong denial that it was in any way involve with or knowledgeable of the transfer of funds paid by Iran for American weapons to the Contra rebels seeking to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.
With respect to an international conference to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, Shamir told Die Welt, “I do not think that such a conference would contribute anything to peace in our region.” He added, however, “Under certain circumstances I do not oppose such a conference.”
He explained that if it took place “after we had reached an understanding with one neighbor or another, then, an international conference could maybe be helpful in confirming the areas of understanding or providing guarantees.”
Shamir denied reports that Israel and the Soviet Union were engaged in direct contacts aimed at improving their relations. He insisted there has been no follow-up of the brief, unsuccessful meeting between Israeli and Soviet representatives in Helsinki last August.
AGAIN DENIES CONTRAS CONNECTION
With respect to widespread reports that Israel provided arms to Reagan Administration-backed regimes in Latin America, Shamir said weapons were supplied to some countries in the region, but only to legitimate governments, not to private groups such as the Reagan-supported Contras.
He defended Israel’s shipment of arms to Iran as a favor to the U.S. “With the United States, we have a strategic cooperation agreement and when they ask us for help we are ready to assist,” he said.
Shamir said he knew nothing of an alleged request by Iraq to buy arms in Israel or of a request by Iran to blockade the Gulf of Aqaba to prevent arms from reaching Iraq from Jordan.