Washington (Nov. 2)
The Reagan Administration sought to reassure Israel today that it was not seeking to replace the Camp David peace process with the eight-point plan for a Middle East peace proposed by Crown Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia.
“Israel will certainly shortly come to understand that the United States does accept the Camp David peace process as a method for achieving peace in the Middle East,” a senior Administration official said.
The official, who was one of two briefing reporters on President Reagan’s one hour meeting with King Hussein of Jordan this morning, said the Fahd plan was not discussed during the White House talks. But he expected it to come up during Hussein’s stay in Washington, although he stressed that he did not expect the President to bring the plan up.
Israel has voiced grave concern about Administration’s comments on the Fahd plan in the wake of the Senate approval of the sale of AWACS and F-15 enhancement equipment to Saudi Arabia, especially since the U. S. had rejected it when Fahd first listed his eight-point proposal in August. Reagan indicated last week that the Fahd plan seemed to recognize Israel’s right to exist and Secretary of State Alexander Haig and other State Department officials said the plan has constructive parts, although some of the eight points were conclusions that first needed to be negotiated.
REAGAN MAKES NO JUDGEMENT ON FAHD PLAN
The Administration official today said Reagan was only taking note of the plan without giving judgment for or against it. He said the President has noted that the plan was an initiative when none had existed before and it could be interpreted as implying the Saudi willingness to recognize the State of Israel.
“The President did not deviate nor did he intend to deviate from the adherence of the United States to the Camp David peace process as the framework for achieving peace in the Middle East,” the official said.
Hussein met with Reagan for 42 minutes in a meeting that was made up of a small group that included Vice President George Bush, Haig, National Security Advisor Richard Allen and Richard Viets, the U. S. Ambassador to Jordan. A meeting with a larger group then ran for about fifteen minutes.
The Administration official said that the meeting today, the first between Reagan and Hussein, was a get acquainted affair and was general in nature. He said specifics would be dealt with in Hussein’s meetings with Administration officials and with the President tomorrow morning. Jordan’s request for U. S. arms did not come up today, the official said.
The President told Hussein that the U. S. was committed to seeking peace in the Middle East based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 242. The King gave Reagan an assessment of each Arab country, and how it viewed the peace process. Hussein mentioned the Palestine Liberation Organization and said the Palestinians must be included in any peace negotiations in order to give any plans that develop “weight and meaning.”
Hussein also mentioned Jerusalem as “a symbol of peace” noting that it was an important city to the Arabs and could not be left under the sovereignty of Israel. The official stressed that Reagan did not reply to this.