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Shimon Peres

Belarus has been visited by a group of social and political figures of Israel headed by the former Prime-minister, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres.

In 1992 Mr. Peres as the Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Belarus where he was born in 1923. Now, apart from going to his birth place, village of Vishnevo near Volozhin town (Minsk region) and meeting with Belarus citizens he and the other members of the delegation met A. Lukashenko and the Minister of Foreign Affairs I.Antonovich. The President of Belarus assured Israelis in his sincere will to develop mutual relationship and pay attention to social and cultural issues of the Jewish community in Belarus. At the press-conference with the member of parliament Shimon Peres there has been present one of the most popular Knesset deputies Abraham Burg. Since 1995 he is a Chairman of the World Zionist Organisation and the Jewish Agency Sokhnut - of the two largest and most influential world Jewish organisations. Being on th! is position Mr. Burg is responsible for the relations between the State of Israel and the Jewish communities in the world. We can assume that the presence of the Parliament members in the Israeli delegation made the Belarusian side try to get them in contact with Assembly deputies. But that did not happen. The participants of the press-conference have noted diplomatically some misunderstanding of protocol formalities. "We have had a good-will visit not an official one," said Shimon Peres. It is known that lately Belarus started to develop actively relations with such interesting for Israel countries as Iran, Iraq, Syria. The society knows less about the development of the relations with Libya. Answering the question if these developments cause trouble Mr. Peres said, "No if they do not touch military and technical co-operation but, shall we say, sale of peaceful tractors." It is known the above countries need the spares for the S! oviet military machinery, and Belarus has a lot of them after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The relations with these countries are "problematic" not because they are Arab but because they support international terrorism. He has also noted that "there are no clouds" in the Israeli-Belarusian relationship. Concerning the activities of the Sokhnut in Belarus Mr. Burg said that "here we met the favourable attitude to our activities" and less problems than anywhere else. As for the repatriation of Jews to Israel from Belarus the Sokhnut is going to pay more attention to youngsters. And here we cannot but recall an interesting episode. During the days of mourning for the assassinated Prime-minister Izhak Rabin the young Belarusian president visited Israeli embassy to express his condolences. According to some people of his administration the president considered it appropriate to touch upon the issue of "brain drain" from Belar! us to Israel. He promised to those present to stop this process and do everything possible to return the "brains". By the way, according to Mr. Burg Belarus is the third country in the world as for the number of immigrants to Israel.



Shimon Peres bottom left, his brother Gershon top left, their parents bottom right