JERUSALEM — A Soviet official issued a public but conditional invitation Friday for Israeli Vice Prime Minister and Labor Party leader Shimon Peres to visit the Soviet Union.
Such a trip would be another step in renewing ties between Israel and Moscow. But several supposed invitations issued recently by Soviet officials have ended in canceled trips and embarrassment for the Israelis.
Henrich Borovik, head of a Soviet trade group that met Peres in New York on Thursday, was the first Soviet official to make a public invitation to an Israeli government minister. Peres confirmed the invitation in a radio interview.
"(We are) inviting Mr. Shimon Peres as our guest to Moscow," Borovik said in a statement broadcast on Israel Radio.
Borovik is a member of the Permanent Committee of Foreign Relations of the Supreme Soviet. But he issued the invitation on behalf of the non-governmental Soviet Peace Committee he heads and said that group would have to approve it.
The invitation was extended after a 45-minute meeting with the four-member Soviet trade delegation, the radio said.
Peres, interviewed in New York, told Israel Radio:
"I've received an invitation, and I think there is an opening for economic relations between Israel and the Soviet Union.