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G-7 Nations to Issue Statement Calling for End to Arab Boycott

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The Group of Seven leading industrialized nations have agreed for the first time on a “flat statement” calling for an end to the Arab boycott against Israel.

“For the first time, there is a flat statement that the Arab boycott should end. And that reflects the consensus of the parties,”-Secretary of State Warren Christopher told reporters Wednesday at the G-7 summit meeting in Tokyo.

Jewish groups have been urging the G-7 countries to produce a strong statement condemning the Arab boycott of companies doing business with Israel.

In 1991, the G-7 nations called for an end to the boycott, but linked it to a demand that Israel stop building settlements in the administered territories. Jewish groups have been seeking an anti-boycott statement this year that does not link the two issues.

But Israel’s policies in the territories did come up at the summit meeting. “We talked about the importance of Israel respecting its obligation with regard to the occupied territories,” Christopher said at his news conference.

On the issue of the boycott, Jewish groups including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the International Steering Committee on Free Trade With Israel, have been holding meetings in recent months with high-level Clinton administration officials.

The Jewish leaders have urged the administration to focus its efforts on the secondary and tertiary elements of the boycott, which affect companies doing business with Israel, rather than on the primary boycott of Israel itself.

The secondary and tertiary levels of the boycott affect American and European companies, and as such are viewed as a free trade issue.

Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, said the boycott statement was expected to be released Thursday as part of a larger political statement on a wide range of issues, including terrorism, human rights and the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Christopher indicated Wednesday that the statement would not include a call for military action in Bosnia. The 1992 statement had referred to the possibility of military action there.

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