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 U.S. envoy to press East Europe on Jewish property
    NEW YORK, May 15 (Reuter) - A U.S. diplomat will visit
 Eastern Europe this week to encourage governments there to
 compensate Jews for properties confiscated by Nazis and
 Communists, the World Jewish Congress said on Monday.
    A WJC spokesman said the organisation had been informed that
 U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Stuart Eizenstat will
 begin his mission with visits to Hungary and Poland this week to
 intensify dialogue on the issue.
    Eight prominent congressional leaders, including House of
 Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader
 Robert Dole, wrote U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher
 last month to complain that East European countries were either
 stalling or obstructing the process of restitution.
    The congressmen also warned the East European nations that
 their relations with Washington could suffer unless the issue
 was dealt with in a satisfactory manner.
    ``It should be made clear to the countries involved --
 Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia,
 Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and
 Ukraine -- that their response on this matter ... could have
 practical consequences on their relations with our country,''
 The congressmen wrote.
    In a letter to the congressmen last week, Wendy Sherman, the
 State Department's assistant secretary for legislative affairs,
 said Eizenstat would be on ``a special mission to advance our
 efforts to encourage appropriate restitution of --- or
 compensation for -- property confiscated from the Jewish
 community and others.''
    The letter added: ``This matter is sensitive for the
 countries and the peoples concerned. Binding these wounds is an
 important task, but it does not justify inaction, so we will
 continue to urge these governments to resolve these issues in an
 appropriate and non-discriminatory manner.''
    In a recent report, the WJC said that East Euroepan
 governments were refusing to return property and assets worth
 billions of dollars that were plundered by the Nazis and then
 confiscated by the Communists.
 

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