JERUSALEM (Aug. 25)
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has denied a media report that he met with a high-level Palestine Liberation Organization official in Stockholm last week.
The report, which appeared in the newspaper Yediot Achronot, claimed the meeting took place, but did not identify with whom.
Peres said Tuesday that he had not met with any PLO officials during his recent tour of Scandinavia.
According to the newspaper, the meeting was arranged by Yoel Singer, who was recently appointed legal adviser of the Foreign Ministry.
In the past, Singer served as liaison between Peres and Nabil Sha’ath, one of PLO leader Yasir Arafat’s senior advisers.
Sha’ath met recently in Cairo with Israeli Environment Minister Yossi Sarid and Knesset member Dedi Zucker, both members of the dovish Meretz bloc. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin reportedly gave his consent prior to the meeting.
Although it was not officially confirmed, Peres was believed to have encouraged the series of meetings that have been held during the past few months between Israelis and heads of the PLO.
Peres believes that stronger personal ties between Israeli and PLO policy-makers could hasten the reaching of an interim agreement with the Palestinians.
On Monday, Peres was quoted in Helsinki as saying that he had reason to believe that an agreement with the Palestinians was imminent.
He said a preliminary deal had already been worked out, which increased hopes that an agreement in the peace talks will soon be reached.