BAKER POSTPONES ISRAEL TRIP TO CONFER WITH SOVIETS

United States Secretary of State James Baker III has told Israel he will fly to the Soviet Union for talks on Middle East peace before arriving in Jerusalem April 25, an Israeli spokeswoman said April 23. Israel had expected him to arrive the evening of April 23.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's office told Reuters:

``Baker called the prime minister and told him he was traveling to Moscow in the matter of the peace process.''

The announcement was made as Mr. Baker was in Damascus meeting Syria's President Hafez al-Assad for one of the most important rounds of discussions of his current tour in search of new ideas to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Central to Baker's plan is a Soviet and American-sponsored peace conference.

Israeli sources say the Jewish state will accept Kremlin participation only if Moscow restores full diplomatic ties, severed 24 years ago.

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