Atherton Begins His Shuttle Diplomacy

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Alfred L. Atherton met for two hours today with Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and later with Premier Menachem Begin. The American diplomat, who President Carter is expected to name Ambassador-at-large for Mideast peace negotiations, arrived here from Washington last night to resume his efforts for a joint “declaration of principles” on which both Israel and Egypt can agree.

After his session with Dayan and his aides, Atherton said the subject of a declaration was discussed but would not elaborate. “I think it is probably not useful for me, after each of these discussions, to say precisely where we are and who is saying what to whom,” he told reporters. Dayan concurred, saying, “Just give us a chance to work a while.” Atherton and Dayan reportedly focused on the “Palestinian clause” of a possible declaration.

Atherton is expected to fly to Cairo tomorrow for further discussions with Egyptian leaders and return to Israel before the weekend. He will visit Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria next week. But his shuttle diplomacy is not expected to achieve any breakthrough before Begin’s meeting with Carter in Washington, scheduled for March 14.

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