WASHINGTON (Nov. 20)
Special Ambassador Sol Linowitz, reporting on the status of the autonomy talks, said here yesterday that “Through their serious and constructive efforts over the past months, Israel and Egypt have begun to bridge their difference on even the most critical, complex and emotional issues” that separate them.
Linowitz made his report to the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the general progress of negotiations for autonomy on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “Unfortunately,” he said, “the negotiating process has been made even more difficult in recent months by a host of external and tangential disturbances and distractions which have diverted attention from the central issues under discussion.”
CITES SOME DISTRACTIONS
In that connection he mentioned “violence on the West Bank, the seemingly endless stream of UN resolutions and the various actions and statements bearing on the status of Jerusalem.” He said these “have interfered with and even interrupted our efforts to focus on the complex and critical substantive issues.”
Linowitz added, however, “Despite frustrations and disappointments, considerable progress in the autonomy talks has been made during the past year.” He said that in the past three months “We have been able to help the parties make significant progress on several of the fundamental issues; specifically Israel and Egypt have narrowed their differences on the key issues of land and water. In addition,” he said, “our work during the past three months indicates that the parties are for closer on the issue of security than many had thought.”
Linowitz said, “We have also begun, I believe, to narrow differences on the nature of the powers that the self-governing authority should appropriately exercise in the transition period.”
U.S. COMMITTED TO WORK FOR PEACE
The envoy stressed the U.S. commitment to work for peace in the Middle East. “Such a U.S. role in pursuit of peace advances our strategic interests while furthering our moral commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes throughout the world,” he said. “I know that President-elect Reagan joins President Carter in recognizing the importance of maintaining the continuum of our foreign policy and the vital role the U.S. must play in the search for peace in the Middle East,” Linowitz said.
Meanwhile, Carter and Reagan met at the White House for 1-1/2 hours today. On emerging, Reagan declined to say specifically what they had discussed. Asked if they had talked about Iran and the Middle East, he replied, “I had the kind of briefing that will be helpful to me.”