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Shamir Welcomes Italian Leaders, but is Cautious on European Role

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir gave a sunny welcome Sunday to Italian Prime Minister Ciriaco de Mita, who flew in with Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti for an official visit.

“Your advent here during the Passover holiday symbolizes the spirit of pilgrimage,” Shamir told his guests at a colorful welcoming ceremony at the Rose Gardens, opposite the government office complex in West Jerusalem.

Jerusalemites and visitors picnicking in the gardens gave the Italian guests a vigorous round of applause as a smartly dressed honor guard of the Military Police presented its colors and the Israel Defense Force band played in the warm spring sunshine.

De Mita, in his arrival statement, said that the international climate of East-West rapprochement, plus “moderation on the part of various parties in the region,” made this time especially propitious for energetic peace diplomacy.

In the afternoon, the two premiers and their aides met to review Shamir’s proposal for Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This is Shamir’s first opportunity to present his proposal to a key European figure since his talks in Washington earlier this month.

But Israeli officials made it clear before the talks began that Shamir does not see a specific role for Italy or the European Community as a whole at this stage.

Shamir himself, in interviews to Italian news media, said, “I am not asking Europe to mediate or to give guarantees, but for its political support.” He added, “If Europe were able to persuade the Arab world to accept my proposals, it would be a great step forward.”

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