JERUSALEM (Aug. 18)
“The gaps are still wide — but we are talking.” This was the essence Tuesday of top Foreign Ministry aide Nimrod Novik’s public confirmation of a 10-hour meeting last weekend between him and a senior Soviet official at the Soviet Embassy in Bonn.
Novik indicated that Foreign Minister Shimon Peres would meet with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze at the United Nations General Assembly next month and that there may be further meetings between officials before that.
He indicated, too, that the two sides had agreed to create a direct channel of communications between them. “Thus the presence of the Soviet Consular delegation in Tel Aviv is not the sum total of the evolving dialogue,” Novik told Galei Zahal, the IDF radio station.
Novik’s interlocutor was Vladimir Terassov, deputy to Vladimir Polyakov, head of Middle East policy at the Soviet Foreign Ministry.
Peres gave first word of the meeting Monday to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, saying it was a cause for “cautious optimism.”
SOVIETS APPROVED OFFICIAL PUBLICITY
Novik noted Tuesday that this was the first time the Soviets had approved of official publicity in the wake of such a meeting. In the past, meetings of this kind — which had never, he added, lasted for more than two hours — had not been officially confirmed, at the insistence of the Soviet side.
Formal diplomatic dialogue between the two countries began with an official meeting last August in Helsinki. But that broke up after 90 minutes without any apparent breakthrough. In April. Peres met with Polyakov and another Soviet expert in Rome.
Novik made it plain that there had been several unpublicized encounters in between. Other Israeli sources have indicated that the Soviet consular team in Tel Aviv is believed to be empowered to conduct political talks, too — though thus far such talks have not been held and both sides are rigidly sticking to the formula that the Soviet team is here on purely Consular business.
SHAMIR BEGINS TALKS IN RUMANIA
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir began his talks Tuesday in Rumania with President Nicolae Ceausescu and his aides. On the plane from Tel Aviv Monday night, sources close to the Premier told reporters Shamir certainly intended to try through Rumania to promote Israel’s dialogue with other Warsaw Pact nations.
They noted that Shamir had conferred in Jerusalem Monday, before his departure, with the Israeli diplomat heading the interests office in Warsaw, Ambassador Mordechai Paltsur.
Israel Television reported Monday night that agreement had been reached with Hungary for interest offices to be set up in Budapest and Tel Aviv. Government sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency they could not give a timetable for this development.