JERUSALEM (Jul. 25)
Israeli officials have confirmed privately that Jerusalem has been holding discreet talks with Indonesian officials about relations between the two countries, despite an official denial from the predominantly Moslem nation.
The denial from Jakarta that future diplomatic relations between the two countries are under consideration, followed a front-page report in the July 22 edition of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz citing a recent visit to the Indonesian capital by the Israeli ambassador to nearby Singapore, Danny Meggido.
The paper said Meggido held talks there with senior Indonesian officials.
The Israeli officials said this was not the first visit of its kind and that there has been previous contact on the political level. But both sides preferred to keep the matter discreet at this stage.
According to the Israeli sources, Indonesia, a Southeast Asian nation of islands and many peoples including non-Moslems, has indicated it would be prepared to upgrade these contacts if there were progress in the Middle East peace process — especially in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
As the ruler of a Moslem nation, President Suharto is said to be sensitive to opinion inside his country and elsewhere in the Moslem world.
In 1983, three Israeli representatives attended an international real estate agents conference in Indonesia after months of being denied permission to enter the country.
It was reported that was effected by pressure from the National Association of Realtors, an American group.