Israel Rejects Soviet Offer

Israel rejected an offer by the Soviet Union that the two countries open “interest offices” in Tel Aviv and Moscow, respectively, as a temporary substitute for the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations which the USSR broke 20 years ago, Maariv reported Wednesday.

According to Maariv, the offer was made by Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze when he met with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in New York last week. Interest offices, the lowest level of diplomatic representation, were established by Israel and Poland earlier this year and soon will be established by Israel and Hungary.

Shevardnadze told Peres it would be a “step to improve relations” between their countries; Maariv reported. But Peres turned him down, saying Israel-USSR relations must be on a higher level than relations with Poland and Hungary.

Sources here said the Soviet offer indicated a positive change in Moscow’s attitude but was an attempt nevertheless to circumvent Israel’s demand for full diplomatic ties, a pre-condition for Soviet participation in the proposed international conference for Middle East peace.

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