MADRID (Apr. 7)
Western diplomatic sources said Tuesday that Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres may meet with two senior Soviet officials within the next 24 hours in Rome where Peres flew Tuesday afternoon to attend the conference of the Socialist International.
The sources said the meeting, Tuesday night or Wednesday, would be held under the auspices of the Socialist International’s special committee on Middle Eastern affairs. The Soviet officials were identified as Karel Bruten and Alexander Zutov, both close aides to Anatoly Dobrinin in the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee’s foreign affairs department. Bruten was described as the man in charge of Middle East affairs in the Central Committee.
According to the sources, the meeting was arranged by former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, a close friend of Peres and fellow-member of the Socialist International. Peres himself declined to comment prior to his departure at the end of a two-day official visit to Spain.
“If and when such a meeting takes place it will not be kept secret. Any such meeting will be announced,” he said in reply to reporters’ questions. Peres met here Monday with King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez. According to Israeli sources, the King promised to do what he can to advance Middle East peace and Gonzalez said Spain would use its contacts in the Arab world to try to advance the process.
Peres urged the Spanish leaders to support an international conference for Middle East peace, an issue that has sharply divided the Israeli government.
The Israeli Foreign Minister spent his final day in Spain touring Jewish landmarks in Toledo, a cradle of Spanish-Jewish culture 500 years ago. In pouring rain, he visited the city’s two oldest synagogues, EI Retreto, built in the 14th century and now a national monument, and Santa Maria de la Blanca, which dates from the 12 century and was converted to a Catholic church after Spain expelled its Jews in 1492.