MADRID (May. 11)
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel met with a senior Egyptian official here Wednesday on the Taba border dispute and held his second meeting in two days with a Soviet official to exchange ideas on an international conference for Middle East peace.
Peres, who departed for New York later in the day, was attending a meeting of the Council of the Socialist International, which runs through Thursday. The gathering, hosted by the Spanish Socialist Party, was considering a draft resolution, expected to pass, blaming Israel for the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and endorsing an international conference to bring peace to the region.
Peres met with Moustafa Khalil, vice president of Egypt’s governing political party, who presented a proposal on behalf of President Hosni Mubarak for a compromise agreement on Taba.
The dispute over ownership of the half-acre beach resort on the Red Sea is presently in the hands of an international arbitration panel, which is expected to announce its binding decision before the end of this month.
Israel made it known officially on May 4 that it would be amenable to a compromise on the dispute. Such a settlement eluded the disputants during the year-long arbitration procedure in Geneva that ended last month.
Khalil is reported to have offered a deal along the lines proposed by Abraham Sofaer, legal adviser to the U.S. State Department, who has been trying to work out a compromise between the two countries.
According to Israeli officials here, the plan calls for Egyptian sovereignty over Taba, but with Israeli access to the tourist facilities it has built there: the Sonesta Hotel and the Rafi Nelson resort village.
Peres also met for a second time with Alexander Zotov, a Soviet official attending the Socialist International meeting as an observer. Facing reporters after their meeting, the two said contacts between their respective governments would continue.
SOVIET PRESSED ON VISAS
But Zotov, replying to persistent questions, insisted he had no authority to say when Moscow would issue visas to an Israeli consular delegation that is supposed to visit the Soviet Union soon. Israel recently extended the visas of a Soviet consular delegation that has been in Israel since last June.
Zotov said in his view this was a technical matter. An Israeli official predicted the visas would be issued within the next two weeks. He confirmed that Peres had raised the matter with Zotov.
But the two apparently could not reach a meeting of minds on the issue of an international peace conference. Peres, in a speech to the Socialist International Council, said the Russians were showing some flexibility “but not enough.” Zotov was seen shaking his head over that remark.
Peres said it was urgent to promote the Middle East peace process and hoped the United States and the Soviet Union would reach an agreement on the matter when President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev hold their summit meeting in Moscow at the end of this month.
The draft resolution expected to be adopted by the Socialist International states that the Palestinian uprising was caused by frustration and is the result of unbearable conditions in the Israeli-occupied territories.
It calls for an international peace conference based on U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 and supports a joint effort by Soviet and American leaders to “find a common understanding … and produce rapid progress.” Resolution 242 calls for the return of Arab lands and guarantees Israel’s right to exist within secure borders.
The draft resolution also suggests that the Palestine Liberation Organization “could make an essential contribution to the peace process.”