Third Round of Autonomy Talks Ends on Upbeat Note but No Evidence of Concrete Progress
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Third Round of Autonomy Talks Ends on Upbeat Note but No Evidence of Concrete Progress

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The third round of the Israel-Egypt autonomy talks adjourned here this afternoon with the delegations expressing “gratification” and “satisfaction” but unable as yet to show much by way of concrete progress.

The two sides are still divided as to what approach to adopt in the talks. Egypt wants a declaration of “bases and objectives” that would serve as an overall agenda framework. Israel, on the other hand, is pressing for detailed negotiations on the practical matters of establishing Palestinian autonomy. The delegations agreed to meet again in Alexandria, Egypt on July 5-6, by which time they will have “studied carefully” each other’s proposals. A fifth round was scheduled for Aug. 5 in Herzliya.

An Israeli participant told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency after the meetings here that the Israeli delegation believed it would be possible to reach agreement an on agenda that would comprise broad statements of objectives, as Egypt desires. But some more work would be required to hammer out the text. Meanwhile, the sources said, the Egyptians were not apposed to starting discussions on the practical arrangements for the holding of the autonomy elections.

In a joint statement issued by the parties today, the difference of approach was accentuated. The statement said.

“The delegation of Egypt led by Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil introduced the position of the Egyptian government concerning the bases and objectives of the process and the future work based on the Camp David Framework and the joint letter.”

“The delegation of Israel led by (Interior) Minister Yosef Burg put forward its suggestions dealing with the practical ways and means to advance the negotiations.”


Burg described the two days of talks to newsmen as “helpful and constructive.” Khalil characterized them as “very serious and fruitful.” Khalil said he hoped the agenda could finally be worked out at the Alexandria meeting, or at least at the next Herzliya meeting on Aug, 5 and 6, and then “our statement will contain more substance and material than the present one.” Both men explained that the proposals put forward this week would be studied in the interim, and each side would come to the Alexandria session with comments and reactions.

The fact that there was no deadlock, and that serious discussions were taking place, was itself ” progress,” Khalil observed. But he would “welcome” United States special envoy Robert Strauss’ efforts “to push” the talks at a quicker pace, Khalil added. Strauss is due to take part in the Alexandria meeting–his first appearance at the negotiations to which he was appointed President Carter’s special envoy.

Strauss’ deputy, James Leonard, who was here, said the U.S. delegation was “satisfied” with both ” the spirit and the substance of the negotiations so far.” But he added that the U.S. looked forward to “more tangible” achievements in the future. He conceded that if “we go a great deal longer” without attaining agreement on an agenda, “we won’t be so satisfied any more….” Leonard praised the “quality of the discussions” Both Israeli and Egyptian sources reported that Khalil and Burg had struck up a warm and informal rapport.


After the session ended today Khalil received a telephone call from Premier Menachem Begin, who was in the northern town of Maalot touring the area Khalil “thanked Begin for his call and his greetings” at a press conference. He said he hoped to meet with the Israeli Premier when Begin and Sadat hold their next summit, in Alexandria on July 10.

Burg explained that the month-long gap between the July 6 meeting and the Aug. 5 session was due to the Organization of African Unity meeting in Monrovia, which Egypt wanted to attend, the Moslem fast of Ramadan and the nine days of Jewish mourning before Tisha B’a.v.

Before today’s negotiating session, Minister of State for foreign Affairs Butros Ghali visited Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan at his hospital bed. Egyptian Defense Minister Kemal Hassan Ali toured sections of the “green line” in the company of Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon. “He showed understanding of our security problems,” Sharon reported afterwards. “But that doesn’t mean he agreed with us. . . .”

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