Sunday, December 26, 1999

In Jerusalem, Italian PM D'Alema meets with PM Barak, announces that Italy is prepared to drop its opposition to Israel's membership in the UN's West Europe group, stresses that EU should play a greater role in the peace process, urges against continued settlement expansion. (ANSA 12/26, 12/27 in WNC 12/27)

In a deal brokered by Germany, Israel frees 5 Hizballah mbrs. whom it seized in Lebanon btwn. 1986 and 1989 and was holding without trial; returns them to Lebanon as a goodwill gesture before the resumption of Syrian-Israeli talks. (AFP, RL 12/26 in WNC 12/27; NYT, WP, WT 12/27; RL 12/27 in WNC 12/28; SA 1/30 in WNC 1/31)

In Cairo, Egyptian FM Musa receives Amb. of Palestine to the UN Naseer al-Kidwa for talks on the peace process. Kidwa says that Israel should be allowed to join the UN Asian states regional group, rather than the Western European group, but only if it refrains fr. violating UN resolutions and makes peace with its neighbors. (MENA 12/26 in WNC 12/28)