Carrington’s Visit to Saudi Arabia Seen to Have Widened Impasse over Mideast Peace Process

Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, was returning home today after a two day visit to Saudi Arabia in which he tried to broaden the basis of Middle East peace negotiations by involving Arab countries which oppose the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement.

Before he left Saudi Arabia, both he and his hosts claimed that important progress had been made. Prince Saud Bin Faisal, the Saudi Foreign Minister, said that his country would ask this month’s Arab League summit meeting to back the eight-point peace plan elaborated by Crown Prince Fahd.

SAUDIS WILL SEEK GENEVA-STYLE CONFERENCE ON MIDEAST

The next stage, he told journalists in Riyadh would be to obtain a resolution of the Security Council involving the Palestine Liberation Organization in the peace process followed by an international conference under the Security Council’s auspices. Since the Soviet Union is a permanent member of the Council, this, like the long moribund Geneva conference would bring the Russians back into the Middle East peace negotiations.

Carrington, who went to Riyadh in his capacity as president of the Council of Ministers of the ten European Economic Community (EEC) countries, also claimed that the visit was a success. He went to Saudi Arabia claiming that the Saudi peace plan contains an implicit offer to recognize Israel if the West Bank was turned into a Palestinian state ruled from East Jerusalem.

While not necessarily supporting all the Saudi conditions, Carrington regards the proposals as worth exploring. As Britain is a member of the Security Council, it is to be assumed that he endorsed Prince Fahd’s scenario for organizing a UN conference.

In the short run, however, Carrington’s visit appears to have emphasized rather than minimized the difficulties of broadening the peace negotiations. Far from reconciling the Saudi Arabian peace plan with the Camp David Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement, the Carrington visit has highlighted their imcompatibility, since Premier Menachem Begin regards the Saudi plan as a formula for Israel’s liquidation.

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