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Netanyahu Presses Secretary General on Access to War Crimes Archives

U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar promised Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, that he will announce his final position on opening the files of Nazi war criminals at the U.N. archives in Manhattan at the beginning of next month.

The secretary general’s pledge was made in the course of a half-hour meeting with Netanyahu Wednesday evening. The Israeli envoy requested the meeting with Perez de Cuellar to urge him not to postpone any longer the decision on opening the files.

Representatives of the 17 former members of the commission met with the secretary general here Sept. 22-23 and Oct. 13 to inform him of their governments’ positions on opening the files.

The secretary general was expected to announce his decision following those meetings, but instead it was decided that the secretary general and representatives of the former members of the U.N. War Crimes Commission will met again at the United Nations on Oct. 30.

CONCERN ABOUT DELAY

Netanyahu reportedly expressed his concern to Perez de Cuellar over the continued delay in reaching a decision on the files. The secretary general reportedly told Netanyahu that a number of governments are still debating the issue.

The issue is whether to grant scholars, historians and researchers access to the dossiers on more than 40,000 accused Nazi war criminals. They are presently accessible only to the governments of U.N. members.

Diplomats at the United Nations told the JTA last week that 16 former members of the long-defunct War Crimes Commission have already expressed support for greater access to the files and that only one country, France, has not yet disclosed its position.

But reliable sources told the JTA Thursday that a number of other governments are now saying that they support a rather limited access to the files by historians, scholars and researchers.

Eyal Arad, the spokesman for Israel’s U.N. Mission, said after the meeting between Netanyahu and Perez de Cuellar, “We came out of the meeting hopeful that the secretary general is indeed going to make up his mind soon and announce his decision along the lines requested by Israel.”

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