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State Department Denies New U.S. Initiative in the Mideast

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A report in a semi-official Jordan newspaper quoting Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco as saying the United States plans a new effort to bring Arabs and Israelis into indirect negotiations was explicitly denied today at the State Department.

According to the Amman publication, Al Rai, the U.S. Middle East expert had said in an interview that Egypt and Israel had recently asserted that they would not object to such talks. Sisco also was reported as saying the U.S. would play the role of an honest broker in such negotiations and that indirect talks may ultimately lead to a solution in the Middle East. However, Department spokesman Paul Hare said that Sisco in a conversation with a Jordanian and a Saudi Arabian newsman on Aug 17 in Washington “did not discuss any new initiative nor a role as mediator” for the U.S. Asked whether he was denying that the U.S. soon will make a diplomatic move in the Middle East, Hare replied, “Yes, that’s a denial.”

Hare said that during his interview with the two Arab newsmen Sisco reiterated the “long-standing” U.S. position that it would like to see a negotiating process started and that the U.S. would play a useful role if it could.

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