JERUSALEM (Jan. 22)
The president of Czechoslovakia declared Monday that his country will re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel next month.
President Vaclav Havel made the announcement in Prague to Vice Premier Shimon Peres, the first Israeli Cabinet minister to visit the Czech capital since Czechoslovakia severed ties with Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War.
Czechoslovakia would become the second Eastern European country to restore full relations with Israel. In October, Hungary became the first to do so. Poland, which maintains an interest section in Tel Aviv, is also said to be close to restoring ties.
The formal act re-establishing relations between Israel and Czechoslovakia will be concluded during the upcoming official visit to Prague by Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens.
Officials here were appreciative of the Czech leader’s deft handling of a potentially awkward situation involving the rivalry between Peres, who heads the Labor Party, and Arens of Likud.
Peres was given the satisfaction of hearing the announcement from Havel. Arens will have the gratification of wrapping up the diplomatic deal.
Arens visited Portugal last week and is presently in Spain. He was scheduled to go to Romania later this week, but that visit has been postponed because of unstable conditions in Romania, it was reported here Monday. No new date has been set.
Peres’ visit to Prague follows the arrival in Israel two weeks ago of a delegation from the Czech Foreign Ministry. The delegation met with Israel Foreign Ministry officials and inspected the old Czech Embassy premises, last used in 1968.