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U.S. Says Israel Egypt Made Progress in Renewed Autonomy Talks

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The State Department claimed today that Israel and Egypt had made “good progress” at their first round of autonomy talks in more than two months which ended in Cairo yesterday with agreement on only three of more than 20 proposed agenda items. The Department’s chief spokesman, John Trattner, said the U.S. did not consider the talks disappointing.

“I understand that they (Egypt and Israel) have made some good progress in private talks on legal matters. I do not consider it a setback,” Trattner said. The latest round of talks was held on the committee level with the objective of agreeing on an agenda for subsequent sessions. The delegations were headed by Israeli Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir and Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Butros Ghali, co-chairmen of a special committee on legal matters pertaining to autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

QUARREL OVER JERUSALEM STATUS

Tamir and Ghali quarreled publicly at a joint press conference at the close of the talks — as they had at Cairo Airport Sunday before the talks began. On both occasions the issue was the status of Jerusalem which did not figure in the talks themselves.

Ghali charged that the Israelis refused to discuss Jerusalem which he maintained “is an integral part of the West Bank.” Tamir retorted that “Jerusalem in its entirety is the capital of Israel and an integral part of its sovereignty” and therefore is not a subject for negotiations in the context of the autonomy talks.

The talks were suspended by President Anwar Sodat on May 8 and were resumed this week only at the prodding of the U.S. last month when the chief negotiators of Israel and Egypt, Interior Minister Yosef Burg, and Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali, come to Washington for discussions with U.S. officials. The legal committee will meet again in Alexandria on July 27 to be followed by a ministerial level meeting of the negotiating teams in Israel on July 30.

ISSUE OF URANIUM FOR IRAQ

On another Mideast issue, Trattner was asked today how the U.S. reacts to the announcement that the French government will supply Iraq with enriched uranium for nuclear reactors. “We are obviously aware of France’s cooperation with Iraq in the nuclear field. We have been in conversation with those concerned about it all along, he said, but did not mention Israel or any other country in that connection.

He added, “We do not have any reaction to give you beyond that we have discussed our concerns with the French and other governments. France shares our overall objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and has announced a policy of promoting the use of lower enriched fuels as such fuels become available.” Israel has termed the supply of uranium to Iraq as very serious. Israeli government officials have called for energetic action in the areas of diplomatic contacts and appeals to world public opinion in an effort to prevent France from supplying Iraq with the wherewithal to build atomic weapons.

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