Washington (Jul. 30)
The Reagan Administration plans to use the visits to Washington of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt next week and of Israeli Premier Menachem Begin in September to work out an approach for resuming the autonomy talks, the State Department said today.
Department spokesman Dean Fischer said no agenda has been set for the meetings Sadat will have with President Reagan and other members of the Administration next Wednesday and Thursday. But he said he assumed bilateral relations and the next step in the Camp David process will be high on the list of topics covered.
Fischer maintained that the Reagan Administration still supports the Camp David process, although, he said, it is not “wedded” to the approach used by the Carter Administration. He quickly explained that, for example, this means that Secretary of State Alexander Haig has not decided whether to employ a single negotiator as the Carter Administration did when it sent first Robert Strauss and later Sol Linowitz to the Middle East to represent the U.S. in the autonomy negotiations.
OUTLINES U.S. QUEST IN MIDEAST
Meanwhile, Haig, at a closed session of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, barely mentioned the Middle East in his prepared testimony which stressed that foreign and defense policy “are inextricably linked.” According to the text released by the State Department, Haig repeated that the U.S. “is seeking to bring an end to the current tension in Lebanon, to build upon the breakthrough of Camp David and, in general, to ameliorate the impasse between Israel and the Arab states.”
He said the U.S. recognizes the need to “pursue these efforts in parallel with the strategy to counter the Soviets.” On this, Haig said, the U.S. is seeking a “strategic consensus among our friends (in the Persian Gulf area) directed toward the common Soviet threat.” He said that the U.S. is trying to “convince” these countries that it is a “reliable and capable security partner.”
Haig said that through helping the underdeveloped world create a “secure and stable environment” by providing the countries with security and development assistance, the U.S. hoped to help “to remove the incentive to nuclear proliferation.”
U.S. DEPLORES BUS AMBUSH
At the State Department, meanwhile, Fischer deplored the attack on an Israeli bus last night for which the Palestine Liberation Organization claimed responsibility, and called on all parties in the area to exercise moderation.
“We deeply deplore this act of violence,” the State Department spokesman said of the terrorist attack. Noting that the Israel government spokesman did not consider the attack a violation of the cease-fire, Fischer stressed: “We, of course, are aware that all acts of violence go against the basic goal of restoring stability and security in that area and again we call upon all concerned to cooperate in strengthening and consolidating the cease-fire.”
Fischer said the U.S. is not holding any specific meetings on maintaining the cease-fire since it is up to the parties involved to ensure that the fighting is not resumed. He also seemed to indicate that there was no movement in efforts to have Syria remove the SAM-6 anti-aircraft missiles it placed in Lebanon late last April. He stressed, however, that U.S. special envoy Philip Habib said this week that he planned to return to the area, although he didn’t know when.
Habib was sent to the Middle East in May to calm the tensions raised after Syria moved its missiles into Lebanon and Israel threatened to remove them by force. (Habib met with United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim for two hours today in New York to discuss the situation in the Mideast and the mission he just completed in achieving a cease-fire. Waldheim was later quoted as saying the meeting was “useful.”)