London (Oct. 22)
British officials here are busily pouring cold water on prospects for a European contingent in the peace monitoring force in Sinai following Israel’s final pullback there scheduled next April.
They have confirmed that the subject was touched on at the recent European Economic Community (EEC) meeting in London and that it could come up again next Monday when Lord Carrington, Britain’s Foreign Secretary and chairman of the EEC’s Council of Ministers, opens a two-day meeting of the Council in Luxembourg.
But they are clearly embarrassed by French President Francois Mitterrand’s indication this week that France would be willing to supply troops to the Sinai force, as well as by similar hints from Rome. Sources here say that while the EEC officially approves of the Camp David peace process, its main aim at present is to soften the opposition of other Arab states by fostering greater participation by the Palestine Liberation Organization. Since this has not yet been achieved, Mitterrand was running ahead of the game, sources said.
The British attribute the French and Italian readiness to supply troops in Sinai to their eagerness to bolster President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. However, they think this should not be done without greater Israeli compliance over the Palestinians’ role in the peace process.
As far as Britain is concerned, the EEC move on the Middle East will be an attempt by Carrington to narrow the gap between the EEC’s Venice Declaration of June 1980 and the eight-point plan drawn up by Crown Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia.