MADRID (Apr. 5)
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres received a warm welcome when he arrived here Sunday for a two-day official visit, the first by a senior Israeli Minister to Spain since the two countries established diplomatic relations more than a year ago.
Peres was greeted at the airport by Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez who said relations with Israel are progressing smoothly and the Spanish government hopes to strengthen them further in the months ahead. Peres observed that his visit is of diplomatic and political importance “but also of great historic and cultural value in view of the two nations past links.”
During his stay here he will meet with King Juan Carlos and with Foreign Minister Francesco Fernandez Ordonez. Prior to his arrival, the Spanish press, including the national newspapers Diaro 16, ABC and La Vanguardia, published interviews with Peres and devoted considerable space to his comments on Spanish-Israeli relations. Two months ago, Spain was visited by Israel’s Minister of Education and Culture, Yitzhak Navon.
In reply to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Prime Minister Gonzalez said Spain favors an international conference for Middle East peace, as advocated by Peres. But the modalities are still to be worked out.
The Spanish government believes the Soviet Union should be one of the participants, Gonzalez said, in order to ensure its chances for success. He declined to go into details. “This is something with which the European Community has to work out and reach a common policy,” he said.
Peres’ assertion, before he left Israel earlier Sunday, that an international conference would be on the agenda of his talks in Spain, aroused the wrath of Premier Yitzhak Shamir who said he hoped Peres “would not succeed.”