NEW YORK (May. 18)
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and the Soviet Ambassador to the United States, Yuri Dubinin, held an unexpected meeting in Washington Sunday night that lasted more than 90 minutes. The two officials discussed the issue of an international conference for Middle East peace.
Peres, in a meeting with Israeli reporters in New York Monday morning, hours before his return to Israel, said that the meeting was held at the request of the Soviet Ambassador in the Washington apartment of Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress.
“The Soviet Ambassador told me that Moscow is interested in reaching peace in the Mideast and that they want to play a positive role in the peace process,” Peres said about his conversation with Dubinin.
“The Ambassador,” Peres continued, “said that the whole world and the Mideast need peace. He noted that a new era is underway in the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, and that the change in the Soviet Union’s policies also applies to the Mideast.”
The Soviet Ambassador told the Foreign Minister that the Kremlin does not intend to arrive at an imposed solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. “I told him that if the Soviet Union wants to take part in an international conference they must come with satisfactory answers to Israel’s requests,” Peres said. He was alluding to Israel’s demands that the Soviet Union restore its diplomatic relations with Israel, which were severed during the 1967 Six-Day War, and that Jews in large numbers be allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union.
Peres said he asked that Soviet Jews be allowed to immigrate to Israel via direct flights from Moscow to Tel Aviv.
‘HIGH QUALITY’ AND VERY INTERESTING’ MEETING
The Foreign Minister, who described the entire meeting with Dubinin as “high quality and very interesting,” said, however, that as far as he is concerned, “The Soviet Union is still not ready to participate in an international conference.” He said that no further meetings were scheduled between him and the Soviet Ambassador.
Asked to sum up the American position on the issue of international conference, following his two meetings with Secretary of State George Shultz in the last four days, Peres said: “The Americans, like me, understand that the only way to reach direct negotiations (between Israel and the Arabs) is through the corridor of an international conference. But they do not want to interfere in internal Israeli matters.”
Peres said that new elections are the only solution to the political stalemate in Israel over the issue of an international conference. He added, however, that he does not believe in a “narrow government” and does not think, therefore, that Labor has to quit the unity coalition government with Likud. “In the present situation, the only way out is new elections,” Peres said “We will continue the struggle until we get a majority for a new election.”