Soviet and Vatican Officials to Discuss Mideast Conference

A Soviet delegation will open talks with the Vatican soon on the possibility of convening an international peace conference on the Middle East, Communist sources indicated Wednesday.

The talks will start before the end of the month, the Italian Communist Party newspaper L’Unita reported in Rome. The views of the Vatican and the Kremlin on this subject “are very close” and need only to be clearly formulated, L’Unita said.

Israel opposes an international conference, and while the United States will not rule one out, its stated preference is for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to the Communist sources, the Soviet delegation in the Vatican will be headed by Igor Andropov, a career diplomat who was a member of the Soviet delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. He is also the son of the late Soviet leader, Yuri Andropov.

Meanwhile, Soviet and Israeli diplomats are preparing for an ambassadorial level meeting in Geneva at the end of the month to discuss bilateral relations and ways to improve cooperation between their countries.

According to sources in Geneva, the Israeli delegation will be led by Arye Levin, chief of the Israeli consular mission in Moscow. Levin holds the personal rank of deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry, which is equivalent to ambassadorial rank.

NEXT STORY