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Cabinet Approves Participation of Four European Countries in the Sinai Peacekeeping Force

The Cabinet today formally approved the participation of Britain, France, Italy and Holland in the Sinai peacekeeping force. It acted apparently on assurances from Secretary of State Alexander Haig that the four European powers would contribute to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) within the framework of the Camp David accords and no other political formula.

Israel had raised objections when the four governments, in their original offer two months ago to join in the force that will patrol Sinai after Israel’s complete withdrawal next April, cited the 1980 Venice declaration as the basis of their participation. That declaration by the European Economic Community (EEC) ministers was rejected by Israel because, among other things, it called for association of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the Middle East peace process.

But Haig, on his visit to Israel last Wednesday and Thursday, said he had been officially informed by the governments of the four countries concerned that their participation in the MFO would conform fully with the Camp David frame-work and not with any other political ideas.

The U.S. will provide the bulk of the 2500-man force and additional contributions have been promised by Colombia, Uruguay and Fiji. With the four European powers now accepted, Australia and New Zealand are expected to announce their participation as well.

Haig, who conferred with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in Cairo Friday and then flew back to Washington with a brief stopover in London has indicated, meanwhile, that he found the Palestinian autonomy negotiations between Israel and Egypt to be seriously deadlocked. (See separate story P. 3.)

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