JERUSALEM (Dec. 18)
U.S. special Ambassador Sol Linowitz ended his final Middle East mission for President Carter here today on an optimistic note. He said the West Bank-Gaza autonomy talks could be concluded successfully “in a fairly short order” because there are no insoluble problems. He also read a joint statement by Premier Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat in which they pledged to negotiate “in good faith in order to conclude the negotiations at the earliest possible dote.”
Linowitz spent two days in Israel during which he had a lengthy discussion with Begin to review the 13 months of autonomy talks between Israel, Egypt and the U.S. He held similar discussions with Sadat in Cairo before coming here At his farewell press conference today he did not entirely exclude the possibility that he might continue the mission under the Reagan Administration.
Telling reporters that he would meet with Reagan as soon as he returns to the U.S., Linowitz said “I will make it clear to the President elect that this job must be undertaken by a person who is very close to the President and enjoys his full confidence.” He said that part of what he achieved as the American representative in the autonomy talks was due to the fact that the local parties knew he had the confidence of the President.
In their joint statement, Begin and Sadat expressed the “firm conviction that the Camp David process is the only viable path toward comprehensive peace in the Middle East today.” Linowitz shared that view and observed, “If there is a determination of both countries to conclude the talks successfully — as I sense to be the case today — this can be done in fairly short order.”
SUBSIDIARY ISSUES’ CLEARED AWAY
He said that in recent months, the negotiators cleared away the “subsidiary issue leaving the toughest questions open, but there ore no insoluble problems. He declined to specify what modifications were made in the positions of the negotiating parties but stressed that important progress was mode. He said that Israel, for example, changed its stance on several autonomy issues such as water resources, public land, political prisoners and security provisions. He did not elaborate.
Linowitz dismissed the Middle East initiative of the European Economic Community (EEC) countries as “an alternative without on avenue.” He will meet with a top EEC diplomat, British Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, in London before he returns to the U.S.
The joint Begin-Sadat statement ended with expressions of thanks to President Carter “for the port he and his advisors played in helping us to move forward in our quest for peace in the Middle East. “The two leaders also expressed gratitude to President-elect Reagan for his promise that the U.S. would remain committed to the Comp David process.