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Greek Opposition Leader Making Unprecedented Visit to Israel

Konstantinos Mitsotakis, leader of the opposition New Democracy Party, was to arrive in Israel on Wednesday for a three-day visit.

The conservative politician is the first Greek party leader to visit the Jewish state.

He is making the trip at considerable political risk. Israel’s image in Greece is at an all time low, because of disapproval of Israel’s handling of the Palestinian uprising.

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency before leaving here, Mitsotakis explained his party’s position in the Middle East conflict and how it differs from that of the ruling Socialist Party of Premier Andreas Papandreou.

He stressed that Greece must establish full diplomatic ties with Israel. At present, relations between the two countries are at the consular level, although the Israeli representative here, Moshe Gilboa, holds ambassadorial rank.

“As I have stated in the past, one of the first foreign policy actions we will take if elected in the next elections is the recognition of Israel,” Mitsotakis told the JTA. The Greek elections are due not later than June 1989.

With respect to the Arab Israeli conflict, the opposition leader said, “Although we are in favor of Palestinian self determination, we have said time and time again that Israel must not only have the right to exist but be within secure, defensible and recognized borders.”

On the status of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Mitsotakis said: “We consider the PLO as the legal representative of the Palestinian people. But they must understand that Israel is here to stay.”

Mitsotakis has talks scheduled with Premier Yitzhak Shamir, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and President Chaim Herzog.

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