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Moroccan Official Welcomes Mideast Peace Moves but is Critical of Israel

The President of Morocco’s Parliament, Dey Ould Sidi Baba, said here yesterday at a news conference that “we solute and are happy at the effort of all nations, including the United States, to reach peace” in the Middle East. Asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency whether “all nations” includes Israel, he replied, “Indeed.” Later, however, he voiced an “impression” that Israel does not want total peace or “even” a bilateral agreement with Egypt.

Sidi Baba was concluding two days of talks in Washington at the invitation of House Speaker Thomas O’Neill (D.Mass.). He met with State Department officials and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House International Relations Committee. Political, trade and economic matters concerning the U.S. and Morocco were discussed. He is due to return to Morocco Sunday following a visit to Connecticut’s State Assembly, at the suggestion of the State Department.

Sidi Baba, speaking in French through a translator at the news conference arranged by Hill and Knowlton, Inc., a Washington public relations firm, said in response to questions that Morocco supports Egypt’s effort to reach peace with Israel. He said his country is ready to continue to contribute to Egypt politically and economically to this end. “We are conscious of the fact that part of the world needs peace, but it has to be peace based on justice and legality,” he said. “We are in favor of the application of the resolutions of the UN Security Council.”

Asked by the JTA whether he favored a separate Egyptian-Israeli peace as a first step toward total peace in the Mideast, Sidi Baba said “This is a question I cannot answer for Egypt but everybody knows–Israel knows and friends of Israel know–a separate peace is not a total peace.”

DEFENDS ROLE OF PLO

Asked to comment on the virtue of a separate peace as a first step, he replied that “political wisdom and political intelligence tell us not to do things partially.” He then added: “We have the impression Israel does not want to even take that step.” When he was asked for the basis of that impression, Sidi Baba replied that when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat visited Israel “he demonstrated to the whole world he wanted peace. Since then Israel has been dragging its feet and the whole world has the impression it does not want peace.”

Responding to a question about Morocco’s relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organization, Sidi Baba said: “The PLO has the support of Morocco because we believe the PLO is the only representative of the people of Palestine. It is wisdom that reality has to be faced by all our friends. It is true that the PLO is backed by and belongs to the rejectionist camp–Libya, Algeria and others–but we believe the PLO will collaborate in the search for peace when the moment arrives, if necessary. Intransigence will give way to wisdom and intelligence. We believe all those countries need to live and prosper and to get to know each other.”

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