GENEVA (Dec. 15)
Sweden played a decisive role in behind-the-scenes efforts to persuade Yasir Arafat to meet U.S. conditions for opening dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization, Swedish officials here revealed Thursday.
The efforts intensified after the United States said that Arafat did not go far enough to satisfy American demands in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly session here Tuesday.
After Arafat held a news conference Wednesday, the Americans decided that he had complied with their demands for an explicit recognition of Israel and renunciation of terrorism.
But it apparently took adroit diplomacy on the part of the Swedes to bring the detente about.
Swedish Foreign Minister Sten Anderssen said he and his aides met five times with Arafat on Wednesday and were in continual contact with the U.S. State Department.
Anderssen said Arafat theoretically met American conditions in his General Assembly speech. But his remarks were not sharp or cohesive enough, and the fact they were delivered in Arabic added to the problem.
By contrast, Arafat spoke in English at his news conference Wednesday. Anderssen and other top Swedish diplomats worked closely with the PLO leadership and the State Department in the hours before that session.
They worked out Arafat’s opening declaration, in which he clearly condemned terrorism, based his peace proposals on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338 and asserted Israel’s right to exist within recognized boundaries.
SOVIET CRITICISM AND PRAISE
The PLO chief referred to Israel by name, affirming “the right of all parties concerned in the Middle East conflict to exist in peace and security, and, as I have mentioned, including the State of Palestine, Israel and other neighbors.”
Anderssen also disclosed that Sweden helped arrange two meetings in Stockholm. One, widely publicized, was held on Nov. 23 between Arafat and a delegation of five American Jews.
A similar meeting that took place there two weeks earlier was kept secret.
The Swedish foreign minister defined his country’s role as a “postman” who “also wrote some of the mail.” He stressed that “Israel knows that I am a true friend and, as such, I am entitled to my views and to my activities.”
The Soviet deputy foreign minister in charge of Mideast affairs, Vladimir Petrovsky, held his own news conference Thursday.
He praised the U.S. decision to negotiate with the PLO, but said dialogue “is not enough.”
“We need a real breakthrough which will bring to an immediate start preparations for the convening of a peace conference.”
Petrovsky criticized Israel for being the only country opposed to an international peace conference. He said the Soviet Union would normalize diplomatic relations with Israel only when the peace conference begins.
But the Soviet envoy praised Israel’s Armenian earthquake relief efforts and the way it handled a hijacked Soviet plane that landed in Tel Aviv two weeks ago.