President Abdou Diouf of Senegal said here Thursday that he would propose a resolution at the next summit conference of the Organization of African Unity that would allow each member state to decide itself whether to re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
Diouf made the announcement after meeting for more than an hour with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Peres is visiting Belgium, France and Britain in an effort to promote an international peace conference for the Middle East.
Diouf’s formula is the same as the one adopted at the recent Arab summit meeting in Amman to allow each Arab state to decide whether to renew diplomatic ties with Egypt, which they broke when Egypt signed its peace treaty with Israel in March 1979.
Within a week of the Amman summit, seven Arab states renewed ties with Cairo. Abdou said that once the O.A.U. summit approves his resolution, Senegal will be ready to consider the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel.
He said that as a gesture of good will, Israelis henceforth will be able to visit his country and obtain visas like the nationals of all other friendly states. He welcomed increased trade relations with Israel and the creation of joint economic ventures.
After praising Israel’s irrigation methods, the Senegalese president said he would like to see them for himself. Peres promptly invited him to visit Israel. “You will be a welcome guest,” the Israeli foreign minister said.
Diouf did not accept or reject the invitation, saying “One day this will come about.”
ONE OF FEW OPPOSED
Senegal, with a large Moslem population, has been until now one of the few remaining African states opposed to diplomatic ties with Israel. Most black African nations broke relations during the 1973 Yom Kippur war in a gesture of solidarity with Egypt. Only Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland retained the ties.
But the ice was broken in 1982 when Zaire re-established relations with Israel, followed by Liberia in 1983, Ivory Coast and Cameroon in 1986 and Togo in 1987. Israel has interest sections in Kenya, Ghana and Gabon and, even before the thaw, maintained commercial relations with about two dozen African states.
In another development here, President Mario Suarez of Portugal promised Peres that he will raise the issue of Soviet Jewry “at all levels, including the highest,” when he visits Moscow next week. He also said he would try to sound out Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on his intentions in the Middle East.
Peres, Diouf and Suarez were awarded honorary doctorates by the Free University of Brussels at ceremonies Thursday afternoon.
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.