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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