U.S. Cool to Possible Egyptian-israel Bilateral Settlement Talks; Rejects Suggestion for PLO to Be a

The United States today reacted with coolness towards possible Egyptian-Israel bilateral settlement discussions while turning down a suggestion from the Palestine Liberation Organization that the Soviet-American statement of Oct. I be formalized by the United Nations Security Council as a way to include the PLO in the Geneva conference. (Related story P. 2)

The U.S. attitude came in response to reporters’ questions by the Assistant Secretary of State Hodding Carter, the State Department’s chief spokesman, following weekend developments in Cairo, Jerusalem and Tunis. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat said he would go to Jerusalem in search of peace and Israeli Premier Menachem Begin responded with an invitation to him to come to Israel.

In Tunis, where the Arab League foreign ministers are meeting, the deputy chief of the PLO’s political department, Said Kamal, indicated the PLO would cooperate with a Geneva conference if it were invited by the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the cochairmen, through UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim.

SADAT-BEGIN STATEMENTS WELCOMED

With regard to the Sadat-Begin exchange, Carter reinforced an earlier State Department statement. “Clearly we welcome all statements and gestures by leaders to move negotiations forward,” Carter said. ‘He said the U.S. considers the Begin-Sadat statements as “a positive contribution to that end.” But the U.S. position “remains” for a Geneva conference in December to which he said all the parties have agreed.

In this connection, Carter said that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance has no plans “at this point” for a new trip to the Middle East or to meet with the foreign ministers of the Middle East nations somewhere in Europe. “We continue to hope and work for a Geneva conference in December,” Carter said. “We are not prepared to speculate on what may develop at the meeting in Tunis.”

MIDEAST ISSUES PINPOINTED

Regarding the suggestion by Sadat that an American professor of Palestinian origin represent the Palestinians at Geneva, Carter said this “question” arose in a discussion with Sadat and President Carter. He did not further clarify. He said the State Department has not made any contacts with such professors and that he did not have an immediate answer as to whether it would be illegal for U.S. citizens to take part in an international conference in such a role.

Hodding Carter emphasized that there are “two roadblocks” remaining on the road to Geneva–the question of Palestinian representation and the negotiating mechanism once the conference opens.

Regarding the PLO statement on the Soviet-American statement, Carter said that the PLO repre- sentatives remarks are “still very unclear.” Nevertheless, Carter emphasized that Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 “remain the only agreed basis” for a settlement and that the U.S. “would not favor any new resolutions that would complicate the situation.”

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