PARIS (Sep. 11)
Both Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and King Hussein of Jordan were in France on Wednesday, though in different cities, and they did not meet.
But Shamir, who had a “short and pleasant” talk with President Francois Mitterrand in Paris, was expected to meet later in the day with a French Jewish leader fresh from a friendly conversation with the Jordanian ruler in Strasbourg.
Jean Kahn, president of the European Jewish Congress and of CRIF, the representative council of French Jewish organizations, reportedly discussed the Middle East peace process with Hussein and expressed hope that Jordan would join it and that the king himself would play a key role.
The Israeli prime minister had only a 30-minute meeting with Mitterrand. But it was more than a courtesy call, he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency afterward.
“It was short and pleasant. I thought that since I was in Paris, it would be a good thing to keep President Mitterrand posted about the ongoing peace process,” he said.
Shamir said they also discussed the absorption of immigrants in Israel. “I told the French president how huge this enterprise is,” he said, adding that Europe would be asked for help.
According to Shamir, Mitterrand invited Israel to make its requests.
The Israeli leader was in Paris at the invitation of former Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, now leader of the right-wing opposition in France. He was invited to attend a conference of the European Democratic Union, an organization Shamir’s Likud party has applied to join.
Shamir was to address the union Thursday.
JORDAN ‘EAGER TO CONTRIBUTE’
Kahn said he stressed to King Hussein that the Palestine Liberation Organization has demonstrated it is unfit to be a negotiating partner.
But since the Palestinians have to be represented at peace talks, Kahn said he asked Hussein to exercise his wisdom in selecting the Jordanian delegation. A majority of Jordan’s population is Palestinian.
At the end of their meeting, Kahn presented the king with a Koran translated into French by Andre Chouraqui, a French-born Israeli and former vice mayor of Jerusalem.
Hussein was in Strasbourg to address the European Parliament, legislative body of the European Community. He told the 518 delegates representing the 12 member states that he is “encouraged” by recent developments in the Middle East.
“We are eager to contribute our full share to resolving the root cause of instability in our region,” he said.
Referring to the question of Palestinian representation at peace talks, Hussein said, “Only the Palestinians should represent themselves. We have offered an umbrella under which they could do so if they wished, while Jordanians addressed their own direct responsibilities.”
Hussein had talks with various E.C. officials, including the chairman of its Council of Ministers, Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek.
Shamir will visit Strasbourg next month.
(JTA correspondent Yossi Lempkowicz in Strasbourg, France, contributed to this report.)