Israeli Premier Yitzhak Shamir remained firmly opposed to the idea of an international conference for Middle East peace as he energetically sought to persuade French political and diplomatic officials Tuesday that such a forum would be “disastrous” for Israel and would endanger rather than advance prospects for peace in the region.
Shamir, on the second day of a three-day official visit, refused to comment on press reports that Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres had reached a secret agreement with King Hussein of Jordan on procedures for an international conference, to be followed by direct negotiations between Israel and Jordan.
“I shall not react to this type of leakages abroad. The matter is far too serious,” Shamir told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. But in his talks with dozens of French officials during the day he carefully refrained from personalizing his dispute with Peres over an international conference.
“My personal relations with Peres are rather good,” he told the newspaper Le Monde. (Our divergences) are not a personal matter but a political issue. We both have to take our responsibilities before our voters,” he said.
Shamir told Socialist Party leader Michel Rochen, National Assembly President, Jacques Chaban-Delmas, and Senate President Alain Poher, “You French are traditionally opposed to the internationalization of regional conflicts. Why do you want to internationalize the Middle Eastern regional issue?”
But he has apparently not succeeded in swaying the French leaders who generally favor a peace conference and the Jordanian option diplomacy of Peres.
During his visit here, Shamir met with Premier Jacques Chirac, President Francois Mitterrand, Foreign Minister Bernard Raymond and Economics Minister Edouard Balladour. He is to address a dinner given by the Jewish community Wednesday night and leave for Israel Thursday.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.