BRUSSELS (Jan. 2)
Spain took over the rotating chairmanship of the European Community’s Council of Ministers Sunday and is likely to be deeply involved in Middle East peace efforts during its six-month tenure.
The Middle East shares top priority on the E.C. agenda, along with East-West relations and the conflicts in Central America, a government spokesman in Madrid was quoted as saying.
Foreign Minister Francisco Fernandez Ordonez said last Thursday that 1989 “might be the year during which the Middle East situation could be unfrozen.”
Fernandez is expected to head a delegation consisting of himself and the foreign ministers of France and Greece to Israel early this year for discussions with the leaders of the new Israeli government.
After visiting Israel, the delegation will go to Tunis to meet with Palestine Libertion Organization leader Yasir Arafat.
Palestinian sources in Madrid said Arafat might pay an official visit to Spain at the end of this month. He was last in Madrid in 1979 at the invitation of the then Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez.
The Palestinian sources said, however, that the visit was still “in preparation” and not definitely set.
It was announced, meanwhile, that Lord Henry Plumb of Britain, president of the Strasbourg-based European Parliament, will pay an official visit to Israel from Jan. 9 to 10, at the invitation of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
The European Parliament is the European Community’s legislative body. Plumb was invited by Israel last September when Arafat was paying a visit to the Parliament in Strasbourg, at the invitation of its Socialist faction.
Apart from Plumb’s two-day trip, a delegation of 12 European Parliament members representing its main political groups will visit Israel in mid-January.