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Dayan Optimistic About Peace Talks

Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, speaking in Hebrew and English with reporters today, appeared optimistic that the talks with Egypt are progressing well.

“On the really tough issues, we are about to solve them,” Dayan said. However, he warned that compromise is essential by both Israelis and Egyptians for an agreement to be reached. “I hope everybody understands” he said, “that unless we come to these negotiations with open hearts and open minds and ready to change positions and give up our opening position, there won’t be compromise.”

Dayan made his remarks after meeting with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance this morning at the State Department. He indicated that “substantial progress” was made in his conversation with Vance. But he made it plain that the issue of Israeli settlements on the West Bank was not involved in their conversation.

In a meeting he had last night with Egyptian Defense Minister Kamal Hassan Ali and Acting Foreign Minister Boutros Ghali, Dayan said “some differences remain but there was some closing of gaps.”

STATUS OF TRILATERAL MEETINGS

Referring to the United States’ cancellation of trilateral meetings since the settlements issue broke open last Thursday, Dayan said that such meetings are essentially up to Egypt. If the Egyptians want one it will be held, he said. Otherwise, bilateral meetings will continue between Israel and the U.S., the U.S. and Egypt, and Israel and Egypt. Dayan said if a trilateral meeting is held it will be more than symbolic because it will deal with substantive issues.

Asked about whether the U.S. role is now on two different planes as a result of the settlement issue, Dayan said, “I can only tell you what they are doing in the talks (at Blair House) and they are very constructive. But I don’t know what they (the Americans) are saying in other places or to their own people.” This was obviously a reference to the discussion that Assistant Secretary of State Harold Saunders had with Palestinians and Jordanians while in the Middle East recently.

Later this afternoon, some confusion arose as to how the U.S. and Egypt regard the results of the separate meetings held last night and today among the Israelis, Egyptian and American delegations at Blair House. George Sherman, official spokesman for the conferees, said “I personally do not disagree” with Dayan’s characterization of progress made at his meeting with Vance this morning. It could not be determined why Sherman injected the word “personally” instead of speaking directly for the delegations.

Pressed on the settlements issue, Sherman said “The ultimate impact of the settlements remains to be seen in the draft treaty text.” He denied a reporter’s suggestion that the settlements issue is “essentially” a difference between the U.S. and Israel. “I do not agree with your characterization (that) it is a bilateral issue,” he said.

Vance was quoted on an ABC-TV interview yesterday as saying that the settlements issue has “deterred” the chances for a quick resolution in the Egyptian-Israeli treaty talks. But neither Sherman nor the State Department’s chief spokesman, Hodding Carter, would expand on Vance’s point today. The conclusion drown by some observers is that the Israelis are under pressure from both Cairo and Washington.

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