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U.S. Considering with Israel, Egypt Next Step in Autonomy Talks

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The State Department said today that the next step in the autonomy negotiations are being “actively considered with our Israeli and Egyptian partners.”

Alan Romberg, the Department’s deputy spokesman, said that the U.S. special envoy to the autonomy talks, Richard Fairbanks, reported to Secretary of State Alexander Haig in Luxembourg yesterday on his meetings in Cairo and Jerusalem last week. Fairbanks’ week-long mission was “productive,” Romberg said.

He said it is well known that the U.S. has offered Washington as a site for the talks if Israel and Egypt cannot agree on where to hold them. But he said the U.S. is not promoting any city and the decision will have to be made by the Israelis and Egyptians. The resumption of the talks has been held up because of Egypt’s refusal to hold any of the sessions in Jerusalem. Israel has said the talks can be held in as many cities as the parties want as long as Jerusalem is one of them.

U.S. officials have indicated they believe the issue will be cleared up when President Reagan meets with Premier Menachem Begin in either New York or Washington next month.

Meanwhile, Romberg said that Philip Habib, the U.S. special envoy for the Lebanese situation, will meet with Haig when he returns from Europe later this week. Habib met with Reagan at the White House Saturday. Romberg said there was no indication as yet whether he would go to the Middle East.

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