The United Nations Secretary-General, Dr. Kurt Waldheim, at the end of his 30-hour visit to?
The United Nations Secretary-General, Dr. Kurt Waldheim, at the end of his 30-hour visit to Israel described his talks as 'useful, frank, and delicate'. He said believed he had achieved his purpose in trying to clarify how the United Nations might be able to help to find a way out of the Middle East deadlock. He repeated that he had not come with any new plans, but during his talks in Israel, various possibilities had been explore.
He arrive on Thursday (30 August) at Lydda Airport, Tel Aviv, amid tight security precautions. His first visit was to President Ephraim Katzir, at his residence in Jerusalem. He then went to the Yad Vashem memorial to the six million Jews who died in the Second World War. It was there that an incident occurred which caused an outcry in local newspapers: Dr. Waldheim would not cover his head at a memorial service, as it the Jewish custom; he said he would show his respects in his own way.
Later on Thursday, the Secretary-General met U.N. officials including the U.N. Truce Supervisory Organisation's Chief, Major General Ensio Sillavavus of Finland. He had talks with the Israeli Prime Minister, Mrs. Golda Meir, and the Foreign Minister, Mr. Abba Eban. It was at a dinner given by Mr. Eban on Thursday evening that Dr. Waldheim was involved in another controversial incident. Replying to a toast of welcome from Mr. Eban, Dr. Waldheim is reported to have said it was a great pleasure to be in the Israeli capital--the dinner was given in Jerusalem. It's understood that Mr. Eban was pleased about the reference, which he suggested was "not inadvertent". On Friday (31 August) morning, Dr. Waldheim issued a statement saying his reference to Jerusalem as the capital "had been inadvertent."
The talks with Mr. Eban and Mrs. Meir on Thursday afternoon lasted more than three hours. Dr. Waldheim said afterwards they had touched on practically all aspects of the Middle East situation; he said he was grateful for the frank exchange of views. Both Mr. Eban and Mrs. Meir have since confirmed that they regard the talks as having been frank and wide ranging. Before the talks had begun there was little optimism about a breakthrough. The fact that the talks on Thursday lasted so long has led to speculation that the Waldheim tour could be the start of a new process towards a solution.
The U.N. Secretary-General left Israel on Friday for Cairo, Egypt, the fourth leg of a five-nation Middle East tour. Before the visit to Israel, Dr. Waldheim had already been to Syria and lebanon, and also paid a brief visit to Cyprus.
SYNOPSIS: The United Nations Secretary-General Dr. Kurt Waldheim, started his visit to Israel by meeting President Ephraim Katzir at his residence, on the third stage of his five-nation tour of the Middle East, which began on Thursday. Dr. Waldheim had first been to Syria and Lebanon.
His 30-hours in Israel began with what turned out to be a controversial event. The Secretary-General was taken to the memorial for the six million Jews who'd died in the Second world War. During a memorial service he stood bare-headed, having declined the offer of a hat on two occasions. (It is the Jewish custom to cover the head at such times.) Afterwards Dr. Waldheim said he had felt he should show his respect in his own way.
He issued a statement later saying he had not been informed of the significance of wearing head-gear, and had not been aware of the implications. During a visit, on Friday, to a synagogue Dr. Waldheim did wear a skullcap. Another embarrassing moment came on Thursday evening at a dinner in Jerusalem given by the Israeli Foreign Secretary, Mr. Abba Eban. Dr. Waldheim, replying to a toast from Mr. Eban, refereed to Jerusalem as the capital. This he said, in a statement on Friday, had been "inadvertent".
The dinner had followed a very long meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, Mrs. Golda Meir, and Mr. Eban, which took place at Mrs. Meir's office. The talks lasted more than three hours, and were described afterwards, by everyone, as having been frank and wide ranging. The fact that they lasted so long has led to speculation that a new start might be made in trying to find a solution to the Middle East problem.
On Friday at the airport, before he left for Egypt, fourth stage of his tour, Dr. Waldheim said he believed he had achieved his purpose, which was to try to clarify how the United Nations could help to find a way out of the deadlock in the Middle East. Throughout his tour Dr. Waldheim has stressed that the does not have any new pans; he is just exploring possibilities.