Menu JTA Search

Arens Visits Portugal and Spain, May Return with Diplomatic Prize

Foreign Minister Moshe Arens began a six-day official visit to Spain on Friday, following the first visit ever by an Israeli foreign minister to Spain’s Iberian neighbor, Portugal.

But his otherwise routine sojourn in Lisbon was capped by a development reported in a somewhat mysterious and tantalizing addendum to the official account of what transpired.

It stated that the two countries would cooperate with each other and with African states politically close to Portugal, in the fields of technical aid and assistance.

The two largest and most important of those states, Angola and Mozambique, both former colonies of Portugal, have no diplomatic tics with Israel. Other states close to Portugal arc Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and Sao Tome and Principe.

They arc among the black African countries that severed relations with Israel after the Yom Kippur War, as a gesture of solidarity with Egypt.

Officials were gratified by the warmth with which Arens was received in Portugal and Spain. Arens, who spent the weekend with Barcelona’s Jewish community before a round of meetings with Spanish officials this week, said Israel would be happy to help Spain with security arrangements for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

Arens is to meet with King Juan Carlos, Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez Marquez and Foreign Minister Francisco Fernandez Ordonez.

During his three days in Portugal, the Israeli foreign minister met with President Mario Soirees and other top officials. He was assured that Portugal would open an embassy in Tel Aviv “in the near future.”

Portugal will appoint an honorary consul there now to expedite the issuance of visas. At present, travel agents have to obtain them through Portuguese missions in Europe.

Israel established its embassy in Lisbon in 1977. It is currently headed by Colette Avital, the only woman ambassador in the Israeli foreign service.

Soares assured the visiting Israeli that a Portuguese Embassy will be opened in Tel Aviv this year.

NEXT STORY