WASHINGTON (Jun. 19)
The United States indicated today that it is considering offering its own “suggestions” to bring Israel and Egypt back to the conference table and that Vice President Walter Mondale may convey them to Israel when he visits there at the end of the month. The State Department’s chief spokesman, Hodding Carter, alluded to both possibilities today. He also refused to characterize or comment in any way on the response sent by the Israeli Cabinet yesterday to the American questions about the future status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Carter noted that Ambassador Samuel Lewis in Israel and Ambassador Hermann Eilts in Cairo have met, respectively, with Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and “Egyptian authorities.” He hinted that the U.S. might make its move after “consultations” are completed. He would not say whether consultations are underway with any other governments, although Saudi Arabia is known to have an overriding interest in developments and Jordan is expected to express its views.
(Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kaamel was quoted today as saying that his country regretted “Israel’s continued intransigence and determination not to respond favorably to the honest efforts exerted by Egypt and supported by the U.S.” He made his remarks following a 90-minute meeting with Ambassador Eilts.)
HINTS U.S. ACTION BEING CONSIDERED
Asked about the American “option” to offer its own proposals for resuming the Israeli-Egyptian talks, Carter said, “We have said in the past that at some point the U.S. may decide to make suggestions of its own on this issue in order to help the two governments move the process forward and obviously reach an agreement. We used the process to reach an agenda for the Jerusalem meeting in January.” He also said, in response to questions, that “no decision has been taken (as to) what American suggestions might be put forward at some point.” However, he added, “this carries with it the implication that obviously consideration has been given to the need for such action by the U.S.”
Asked whether Mondale’s upcoming trip to Israel would be a “substantive trip or a good will mission,” Carter replied that the Vice President “always carried substantive weight.” Officially, he is going to Israel June 29 to participate in the continuing festivities marking that country’s 30th anniversary.
Carter said that as of “mid-morning” today no decision had been made as to whether Secretary of State Cyrus Vance or Alfred L. Atherton, President Carter’s Ambassador-at-Large to the Middle East, would visit that area to get the peace talks resumed. Asked whether yesterday’s response by Israel gave room for maneuver or whether the peace process remains deadlocked, Carter said that in this “consulting” period, it would not be “useful, helpful or perhaps, even meaningful to offer a characterization of what was offered by the Israelis.”