WASHINGTON (Aug. 2)
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel denied today that he found a coolness toward him by President Reagan when he met with him at the White House this morning.
“It was a friendly atmosphere in the mornings as it was now (at the State Department) in the afternoon,” Shamir told reporters after a nearly three-hour meeting with Secretary of State George Shultz, including a working lunch.
“Of course there are some difficulties” between the United States and Israel, Shamir added. But he stressed as he had this morning that the two countries had “identical goals in Lebanon.”
Pool reporters who attended the picture-taking session at the opening of the meeting at the White House said there was none of the usual friendly small talk that normally marks those occasions. The reporters noted that when Israeli Ambassador Moshe Arens tried to break the ice with a remark, the Americans did not respond.
But when Shamir was asked directly this afternoon if the U.S. was trying to put some distance between itself and Israel, because of Israel’s bombardment of west Beirut, Shamir replied, “I wouldn’t say so.”
Shamir said his talks with Shultz, which he described as “very friendly,” centered on Lebanon but in more detail than the earlier half-hour White House meeting. He repeated again the Israeli position of the “absolute necessity that the PLO have to leave Beirut and Lebanon as soon as possible.” He again added that the PLO has to decide whether to do this by “negotiations or by otherwise.”
Shamir said the “next few days” may tell whether the efforts by special envoy Philip Habib will be successful. He did not explain what he meant. Also discussed at the State Department today the prospects for peace in the Middle East after the issue of Lebanon is resolved, Shamir said.