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>Israel Faxx
>PD Dec. 13, 1994, V2, #223

Rabin Visits Japan: Tomorrow South Korea

By Pamela Burton (Tokyo)

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin Monday became the first-ever Israeli leader to visit Japan. The historic trip kicked off with the signing of new agreements to expand two-way cultural and technological ties.

Rabin wasted no time in getting down to business with Tokyo. Just a few hours after arriving, the Israeli leader sat down with his Japanese counterpart Tomiichi Murayama.

The Japanese prime minister pledged his country's continuing support for the Middle East peace process and for Palestinian self-rule. The meeting ended with the signing of a new agreement aimed at boosting bilateral exchanges of scientific and technological information.

A new cultural accord was also signed. That agreement would expand exchanges among academics, students and artists in the two countries. Rabin also received congratulations from Murayama for winning this year's Peace Prize.

The Israeli leader is hoping to reap the dividends of Mideast peace by boosting business and trade ties with Japan. Past economic ties had been strained due to Japan's heavy reliance on Arab oil sources, which made Japanese officials and trading firms reluctant to break the Arab boycott on doing business with Israel.

With that threat now gone, however, Rabin is courting Japanese investors. The Israeli leader has brought with him economic advisors and executives and is slated to meet with Japanese business leaders later this week.

Rabin is also calling for greater government aid to help promote the peace process in both the Palestinian-controlled territories and in Jordan. Japan has so far pledged $10 million to build housing for the new Palestinian police force.

On Wednesday, Rabin will kick off the second leg of his East Asian trip by traveling to South Korea. That visit will also be a first for any Israeli leader.

Syria Warns About Israel's Attempt to Conquer Arab World

By Kim Reid (Cairo)

Syria has warned Arab oil ministers to guard against Israeli attempts to control the Middle East marketplace, The Syrian oil minister made his comments in Cairo to a meeting of the 10 Arab petroleum exporting countries.
Syria may be opening channels with Israeli diplomats in Washington, but here in the Middle East it is still talking tough about Israel.

Syria's Oil Minister Nader Nabulsi urged 10 oil-producing Arab states to confront Israel's regional economic aims. His views are shared by many conservative Arab political factions. They believe the Middle East peace process is Israel's way of conquering the Arab world through business.

Western diplomats say Israeli leaders have inadvertently encouraged this view. Israel has told its citizens that the security sacrifices of the peace process will be worth the economic gains made through Arab trade.

One Israeli diplomat says those words may reassure Israelis. But they are disturbing to Arab countries who feel they will be the first victims of an Israeli economic expansion.

PLO Leader's Wife Reportedly Denies Arafat Married Before

Rumors that PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat was previously married are being denied by Arafat's wife, Suha. She told Cairo reporters that the reports are false and designed to tarnish her husband's reputation.

"These news are fabricated and aimed at distorting the image of Abu Ammar," she said, referring to Arafat's nickname. The story appeared Sunday in the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

After Suha announced Friday that she was pregnant, Haaretz published an interview with a woman claiming to be Arafat's first wife.

The Israeli daily said Najla Yassin, Arafat's former office manager, had claimed that she and the PLO chief lived together for 18 years until 1985 but had no children. Yassin denied the Haaretz story.

She insisted that her relationship with Arafat has been one of Palestinian fighter and leader, not wife and husband.

Yassin said of Arafat's wife "She's like my child. I've known her since she was a small girl as I've had a good relationship with her mother, Raymonda."

Arafat married Suha al-Tawil, his personal secretary, in 1991. The PLO office in Gaza declined comment on the Haaretz interview.

Israel Sends Emergency Aid to Djibouti

Israel sent emergency medical aid Thursday to flood-ravaged Djibouti. In recent days, over 100 people were killed and thousands have been left homeless as a result of terrible floods that have struck the country, located in the Horn of Africa. Most of the country's water supplies have been polluted.

Djibouti is seeking assistance from the international community, and reportedly sent a request to Israel's mission to the United Nations.

Ya'akov Canaan, head of the Foreign Ministry's Africa Department, accompanied the aid shipment and transferred it to Djibouti officials.

Djibouti, a member of the Arab League, is a nation of less than half a million people, most of whom are Muslim.

Israel and Djibouti have no formal diplomatic relations.

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