Peres Invited To Moscow After Talks With Soviet Delegation
JERUSALEM (AP) _ A Soviet official issued a public but conditional invitation today for Vice Premier and Labor Party leader Shimon Peres to visit the Soviet Union.
Such a trip would be another step in renewing ties between Israel and Moscow. But several supposed invitations issued recently by Soviet officials have ended in canceled trips and embarrassment for the Israelis.
Henrich Borovik, head of a Soviet trade group that met Peres in New York on Thursday, was the first Soviet official to make a public invitation to an Israeli government minister. Peres confirmed the invitation in a radio interview from New York.
″(We are) inviting Mr. Shimon Peres as our guest to Moscow,″ Borovik said in a statement broadcast on Israel radio today.
Borovik is a member of the Permanent Committee of Foreign Relations of the Supreme Soviet. But he issued the invitation on behalf of the non-governmental Soviet Peace Committee he heads and said that group would have to approve it.
″I think he (Peres) has a good chance. ... I already said that my personal invitation he already got, but we certainly have to discuss it on the bureau of the Soviet Peace Commitee. I hope that they will react positively.″
The invitation was extended after a 45-minute meeting with the four-member Soviet trade delegation, the radio said.
Peres, interviewed in New York, told Israel radio:
″I’ve received an invitation and I think there is an opening for economic relations between Israel and the Soviet Union. The areas that interest us and them are agriculture, medicine, air traffic and tourism. We have a lot to discuss.
″We found a great deal to discuss together, to contribute to our economies and eventually to peace in the area and peace in the world,″ Peres added. ″But I always believe it’s better to talk after the deed is done.″
Earlier this month, Agriculture Minister Avraham Katz-Oz, invited by two of his counterparts from Soviet republics, canceled a trip after authorities in Moscow denied him a visa.
On Aug. 16, a spokesman for Trade Minister Ariel Sharon said Sharon was invited to the Soviet Union by his Soviet Georgian counterpart, who was visiting Israel at the time. Sharon was due to leave for Georgia in October but then the Soviet Foreign Ministry denied any invitation was issued.
The Soviets say renewal of diplomatic ties with Israel depends on progress in the Middle East peace process. Moscow and all other Eastern European states apart from Romania cut diplomatic relations with Israel following the 1967 Middle East war to protest Israel’s seizure of land from Moscow’s Arab allies.
Israel and the Soviet Union have exchanged low-level diplomatic missions in the last three years. This week, Hungary became the first East bloc nation to renew full diplomatic ties with Israel.