Jewish Leaders Meeting with Shultz; U.S. Welcomes Israel’s Efforts to Resume the Autonomy Negotiatio

Thirteen Jewish leaders will meet with Secretary of State George Shultz this afternoon at the State Department, including Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and four other previous chairmen of the Presidents Conference.

State Department spokesman John Hughes said at the briefing today that this meeting is part of the Secretary’s on-going general consultation with members of Congress, community leaders and the private sector in the development of a future U.S. Middle East policy.

Hughes was asked to comment on Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s article today in the Washington Post’s op-ed page in which Shamir said that the expulsion of the PLO from Lebanon would have a positive effect on the Camp David peace process and that “now is the time to resume the autonomy negotiations and bring them to a quick and positive conclusion.”

Hughes said he could not discuss the timetable for the resumption of the autonomy talks but added that “we saw the piece by Mr. Shamir and we are very pleased to see that the Palestinian problem is receiving priority attention from both Israeli and Egyptian governments.” Hughes stated “we welcome the reaffirmation by Mr. Shamir of Israel’s desire to move ahead promptly in the peace process on the basis of Camp. David. We will be consulting in particular with our Egyptian and Israeli partners in an effort to decide on how best to proceed in our common effort to resolve the Palestinian problem in all its aspects.”

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