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Stoessel Confident Israel, Egypt Will Settle Their Differences

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Walter Stoessel Jr. said today he was confident that Israel and Egypt will settle their differences. He made the statement to reporters after a two hour meeting with Premier Menachem Begin but did not elaborate.

Stoessel, the State Department’s senior official after Secretary of State Alexander Haig, arrived here last night for talks with Israeli leaders. He will go to Cairo over the weekend and is expected to return to Israel Sunday.

Stoessel said his visit was an expression of U.S. determination to be a full partner to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. Deputy Foreign Minister Yehuda Ben Meir, who met him at the airport, said Israel wanted peace but expected Egypt to fulfill all of its obligations. “We demand no more and we can expect no less,” he said.

Israel has accused Egypt recently of a series of treaty violations. There is also an ongoing dispute between Cairo and Jerusalem over several points along the Sinai-Israel border. Defense Minister Ariel Sharon who flew to Cairo yesterday in an attempt to resolve the dispute returned to Israel to day after meetings with Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali and Defense Minister Abdel-Halim Abu Ghazala. Sharon declined to talk to reporters upon his return and drove straight from the Atarot airfield near Jerusalem directly to Begin’s office to report on his visit.

Reports from Cairo today quoted Hassan Ali as saying that no agreement had been reached with respect to the location of the border in the Taba region near the Israeli port of Eilat and that Egypt would seek international arbitration. In the interim, he said, according to the reports, the Egyptians would advance only to the line designated by Israel when they take over all of Sinai on April 25. The dispute involves about a kilometer of territory on which Israel is building a luxury resort complex.

The Israelis are said to prefer a bilateral settlement to arbitration. Sharon reportedly declined to make any statement as he left Cairo except to say he was returning to Jerusalem to report to his government.

Meanwhile, the official Middle East News Agency (MENA) published a statement yesterday affirming that Egypt would abide by the letter and spirit of its treaty with Israel. At the some time, the statement said Egypt would not bargain over the Sinai boundary which, it insists, must conform to the international line drawn in 1906 by Great Britain and the Ottoman empire.

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