NEW YORK (Sep. 23)
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze met for nearly two hours at the Soviet United Nations Mission here Wednesday and emerged pledging to continue contacts between their countries.
Both Ministers, speaking to reporters, described their meeting as “friendly, useful and open.” The Soviet diplomat referred to his Israeli counterpart as “Comrade Peres.” He said “The most important thing is that we agreed that our meetings will continue.” Peres said their discussion was “deep and honest” and dealt mainly with the situation in the Middle East, the relationship between Moscow and Jerusalem and the issue of Soviet Jewry.
With respect to the latter, the Israeli Foreign Minister said, “I came out of the meeting with hope in my heart that something could be done regarding the issue of Soviet Jewry, although I did not receive any concrete promises from Mr. Shevardnadze.”
He said their discussion of an international conference for Middle East peace centered more on the framework of such a conference than on its details. According to Peres, Shevardnadze spoke at length about improved relations between the Soviet Union and the United States and the Russian diplomat believes that progress in the Middle East could parallel improved relations between the two superpowers.
Peres said he told Shevardnadze of Israel’s desire that the Soviet Union open its gates to all Jews who wish to emigrate and that the Soviets would see to it that those who leave go to Israel. He said Shevardnadze did not promise anything but listened attentively to Israel’s concerns. Peres described Shevardnadze as a Foreign Minister who does not have “one bit of hostility toward the Jewish people.”
“I got the impression that the Middle East is very high on the agenda of the Soviet Union,” Peres said, adding that he and Shevardnadze agreed that whatever can be done to advance the cause of peace there should not be postponed because time is of the essence.