WASHINGTON (Oct. 6)
Discussions will be resumed “formally” on West Bank-Gaza autonomy starting on an unspecified date next week in Washington, the State Department said today. The announcement appeared to contradict official Egyptian reports that the talks will be resumed here Oct. 14, but only to discuss “modalities” on how to proceed with the negotiations that Egypt broke off in August.
Confronted with these differences of view on a subject of broad interest in the Presidential campaign, State Department spokesman John Trattner insisted that the talks are “formal.” He emphasized “Yes” when asked if the talks would mark a “formal resumption” of negotiations. He named as the participants the heads of the three delegations — U.S. special ambassador Sol Linowitz, Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali, and Israeli Interior Minister Yosef Burg.
In this connection, Trattner volunteered that the Iraqi-Iranian hostilities “underscore the very great importance of moving as quickly as possible to resolution of other disputes that are potential sources of conflict. It makes it all the more essential we vigorously pursue our efforts of trying to bring about in the Middle East peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors, a just resolution of the Palestinian problem and security for Israel. We plan to do just that next week.”
Trattner’s statement came in the context of questions about Secretary of State Edmund Muskie’s conversations in New York last week with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal. The Minister said yesterday in a CBS national television broadcast that “The PLO, if there is a peaceful settlement, has to be brought into the picture.”
VIEW OF SAUDI ARABIA
Trattner refused to say if any change has taken place in Saudi Arabia’s opposition to the Camp David process in view of the U.S. supplying the Saudis with sophisticated aircraft and other military equipment and American personnel to operate it. He noted, however, “We have made it clear we would like to widen the peace process in the Middle East to include as many of the directly affected or closely interested parties as we can — as can be included.”
Last Friday, in one of his toughest statements on Israel, Saud told the United Nations General Assembly that in order to “free Jerusalem from the grip of racist Zionism, ” Moslems and Christians must conduct an oil-out holy war and endorsed an Arab move to suspend Israel from the General Assembly.
Inasmuch as the State Department last week said it regarded the autonomy talks and the Iraqi-Iranian war as unrelated, Trattner was asked why he was now relating the events in his volunteered remarks. He replied, “I don’t see any organic relationship between the war and autonomy. “At another point, Trattner said he has not “seen tangible concrete results” of Arab states bending toward the Camp David process as a result of the war. He denied that the U.S. has tilted toward the Arab position in the Iraqi-Iranian hostilities.
Despite the transfer of men and equipment to Saudi Arabia, Trattner said the “U.S. clearly has stated its position. It is not taking sides in the conflict between Iraq and Iran.” He noted that “we did urge” the Persian Gulf states last week to “remain and continue an a neutral course.”
Trattner reserved comment on Jordanian King Hussein’s identification with Iraq and his possible transfer of U.S. military equipment to Iraq.
REACTION TO PARIS SYNAGOGUE BOMBING
In another development, the State Department spokesman said the terrorist attacks on Jews in Paris did not constitute a “setback” to the autonomy talks but that “the tragedy” in Paris represented “trying to settle by violence what can only be resolved by negotiations.”
He declined to condemn any organization. “We are not condemning any group,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of really good information on who is responsible for these things.”