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Lebanese Envoy Says Carter’s Remarks About Defensible Borders Did Not Hurt Mideast Peace Talks

One of four Arab ambassadors who met with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance yesterday said that President Carter’s remarks about “defensible borders” for Israel “certainly did not hurt” the negotiating process for a Middle East peace settlement. The Lebanese envoy, Najati Kabbani, replied “no” when asked by a reporter if the U.S. position on Middle East agreements had changed.

Kabbani, along with the ambassadors of Egypt Syria and Jordan, spent 50 minutes with Vance. Kabbani, who served as spokesman for the group, said “The basic U.S. position is the (UN Security Council) 242 Resolution and now all the efforts are focused on the process of how to prepare for the Geneva conference and how to make it a successful dialogue.” He said the meeting with Vance did not “touch on any detail.”

Asked if Vance gave any clarification of “minor adjustments” in Israel’s borders, Kabbani replied, “We prefer to stay within the broad lines of the spirit and conception of the new approach in the search for peace. We prefer to speak about mutual security arrangements rather than defense lines and legal borders.”

A reporter, referring to Carter’s press conference remarks last Wednesday in which he stressed Israel’s need for defensible borders, asked if that had hurt or helped the negotiating process. Kabbani replied, “It certainly did not hurt. The more the situation is clear, the better it can be dealt with.”