Date for Resumption of Autonomy Talks to Be Set at Washington Meeting of Delegation Heads

Israel is waiting for a formal invitation from the U.S. to send its chief autonomy negotiator, Interior Minister Yosef Burg, to Washington for discussions on the resumption of the autonomy talks with Egypt. Cairo is also believed to be awaiting an invitation.

Egypt announced yesterday that it is now prepared to move toward resumption of the talks which President Answer Sadat suspended on May 15. Israel’s position all along has been that it favors on early resumption.

Observers here acknowledged that setting a date need not require a face-to-face meeting of the principals and could be arranged just as easily via telecommunications. But apparently Israel, Egypt and the U.S. want to hold a heads-of-delegations session as a tangible symbol that the crisis involving the passing of the May 26 target date without any noticeable progress on an autonomy plan has now ended.

In Washington, Burg would be meeting with Egypt’s new chief negotiator, Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Hassan Ali and U.S. special Ambassador Sol Linowitz. Premier Menachem Begin mode it clear at a Sunday press conference that Burg would be empowered to discuss only a date for renewal of the autonomy talks and that there would be no substantive negotiations between the parties at their Washington meeting.

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