JERUSALEM (Oct. 2)
Visiting Argentine President Carlos Menem was hailed Wednesday by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir as an ideal peacemaker between Israelis and Arabs.
Menem, whose parents came from Syria, could make “a major contribution to the atmosphere of mutual trust” between Israelis and Arabs, Shamir said after an hour-long meeting with the Argentine leader.
He said Menem’s “proud Arab heritage” and his “excellent relations” with Israel and with the Jewish community in his own country was a rare combination that could serve the cause of Middle East peace.
Argentina has the largest Jewish population in Latin America. Menem is that country’s first chief of state to visit Israel.
He offered to host the proposed Middle East peace conference in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital. A spokesman for Shamir said, “He suggested this. We thanked him and said we would think about it.”
Several other countries have offered as well. But the United States, which would co-sponsor the conference with the Soviet Union if it materializes, is said to favor Switzerland.
Menem, visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, said neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism were “a thing of the past” in his country. He pointed out that Argentina is one of the few countries that have outlawed anti-Semitism.