Jul 28, 1987


GENEVA, JULY 25 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) Ė Secretariat officials and delegates to UNCTAD-VII were having a sigh of relief here on reports that the Israeli Trade Minister, Ariel Sharon, might not after all be coming to speak next week in the General Debate.

Sharon, Israelís then Defence Minister and the man widely held to be responsible for the massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps at Chatila and Sabra in Lebanon in 1982, had been originally slated to come here and speak in the General Debate on July 29.

The non-aligned group at a meeting on Friday morning decided that members would either stay away or walkout of the plenary hall when Sharon rose to speak.

There was a veiled reference to the move at Friday's meeting of the Presidentís Contact Group, G77 sources later said.

At that meeting, the U.S. delegate, Denis Goodman, would appear to have made a cryptic remark that there should be "no disruption in our work on July 29", and Conference President Bernard Chidzero made an equally cryptic response to the effect that the matter was being looked into, and that Goodman could discuss it with him outside the room.

Chidzero is to be away from Geneva, from evening of July 28 to morning of July 30, as he will be going to Harare to present the budget to Zimbabweís parliament on July 29.

Participants at the meeting were not sure whether the Goodmanís remark was merely to Chidzero being away (which might delay negotiations but canít disrupt work) or to Sharonís visit and possible incidents or non-aligned countries intention to walkout.

However, later Friday evening, UNCTAD officials and many delegations said it would appear that Sharon would not after all be coming, and that this information had been informally conveyed to UNCTAD officials by Israeli diplomats.