UNITED NATIONS (Sep. 22)
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Tuesday that the improved relations between Moscow and Washington would contribute to efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.
He said that was the impression he gained in a 20-minute talk with Secretary of State George Shultz Tuesday morning. “The next few months are very critical to the relations between the two superpowers and the progress in their discussions will affect the chances for peace in the Middle East,” Peres said in a briefing for Israeli reporters here.
He said that Shultz told him at their meeting at the United Nations Plaza Hotel that when he (Shultz) met with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, their conversation dealt with, among other things, the issue of human rights in the USSR, and the peace process in the Middle East.
“I also know that the Arabs are in contact with the Russians about the peace process. I don’t think that the peace process in the Middle East is a dead issue,” Peres said.
‘GRADUAL PROGRESS’ IN ISRAEL-USSR RELATIONS
The Israeli Foreign Minister, who is scheduled to meet with Shevardnadze Wednesday morning, said that in his opinion there has been “a gradual progress” in relations between Israel and the Soviet Union.
“We would like them to be more forthcoming, but one cannot deny the fact that many changes have taken place,” Peres told the Israeli reporters. He noted that all Prisoners of Zion have been released by the Soviet authorities, many Jews have been receiving exit visas and a Soviet consular delegation has come to Israel after many years of frozen relations between the two countries.
Peres reiterated his belief that an international peace conference is the best way to achieve direct negotiations between the parties in the Middle East. “I’m convinced that you can’t conduct negotiations for peace without the Arabs and you can’t bring the Arabs to the negotiating table without an international conference,” Peres said.
Peres also met Tuesday with British Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe for discussions of Middle East peace prospects and recent developments in the Persian Gulf. A spokesman for Peres told reporters later that they discussed the position of the Soviet Union and reports that the Kremlin has been showing new openness regarding the Middle East peace process.
Howe told Peres that Britain was concerned about a stalemate in the Middle East, the spokesman said.
PERES INVITED TO VISIT BRAZIL
In addition to Howe, Peres met Tuesday with Foreign Minister Abreu Sobre of Brazil. They discussed bilateral relations and improved economic ties between their countries. Sobre invited Peres to visit Brazil. He accepted and may go there later this year. Peres reciprocated the invitation which the Brazilian Foreign Minister accepted but no date was set for his visit to Israel.
Peres met Tuesday afternoon with the Foreign Minister of Panama, Uffe Ellemann Jensen, and The Netherlands Foreign Minister, Hans Van Den Brock. He was scheduled to meet Tuesday evening with the Foreign Minister of Poland, Mariar Otzechowski.