Israel is Looking to Improve Strained Relations with France

Israel has placed better relations with France on its diplomatic agenda, according to sources here.

They cite a long telephone conversation last Friday between French foreign minister Roland Dumas and his new Israeli counterpart, Shimon Peres.

The long distance talks may soon be followed by a face-to-face meeting. There is speculation that Peres will soon visit Paris.

But a French Foreign Ministry spokesman cautioned that “we have to leave to the Israeli government the initiative of announcing its program.”

The trip would reflect an Israeli desire to improve relations, which plummeted in part because of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s apparent contempt for European governments in general and for France in particular.

Shamir was principally irritated by France’s support for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s involvement in the Middle East peace talks.

France has repeatedly requested for itself and for Europe a real seat at the peace talks, instead of the minor role it has been assigned up to now.

For his part, Peres seems to have warm relations with his French counterpart.

The conversation between Dumas and Peres was described by a French Foreign Ministry spokesman as “very long and substantial.”

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