WASHINGTON (Oct. 21)
Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir made it clear today that security arrangements for the Israel-Lebanon border must be worked out between Israel and Lebanon before the Israeli army will withdraw from that country.
He stressed this to reporters after an hour-long meeting with Secretary of State George Shultz at the State Department this morning, at which he was briefed on Lebanese President Amin Gemayel’s meetings earlier this week with President Reagan and other Administration officials.
Shamir, at Shultz’s request, briefed the Americans on his visit to Costa Rica during the past few days. The Israeli Foreign Minister appeared less optimistic today than he was when he met with Shultz last week over the chances of an early withdrawal of Israeli, Syrian and Palestine Liberation Organization forces from Lebanon.
He had said, after talking to Shultz last week, that he hoped an agreement on withdrawal could be reached by the end of the year. Asked today, if he still felt that was possible, he replied, “I cannot say.”
But Shamir said, “I believe we are going to solve the problem.” He indicated that Israel would like to see a Lebanese-Israeli working committee make security arrangements for south Lebanon and work out an agreement on withdrawal. Presumably, he has in mind a committee similar to the Israeli-Egyptian working committees which made arrangements during the peace process between those countries.
U.S. OFFICIAL CITES PROBLEM
However, a senior U.S. official said later that the problem is not the arrangements for withdrawal but Israel’s demand for a formal, written agreement with the Lebanese government. He said Gemayel and other Lebanese officials talked in Washington this week of rebuilding the “national consensus” in their country and this raised problems of how for Lebanon could go toward a formal agreement with Israel.
The U.S. official also indicated that Lebanon does not want a formal agreement because it might hamper its efforts to obtain financial aid from other Arab countries.
The next step in the process will be the return of Morris Draper, the special U.S. negotiator for Lebanon, to the Middle East, probably this weekend. He is expected to go to Lebanon first and then will visit Israel and Syria and, possibly, Saudi Arabia, according to an official here.
Meanwhile, Shultz was scheduled to make a formal call this afternoon on King Hassan of Morocco, chairman of the Arab League, who arrived here last night for a meeting with President Reagan tomorrow.
Hassan, accompanied by the Foreign Ministers of Syria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Argentina, and by the Secretary General of the Arab League, Chedli Klibi, will have a working lunch at the White House with Reagan tomorrow, to be followed by a meeting with Shultz. They will meet with Vice President George Bush later in the day.
MEETINGS WITH ARAB DELEGATION OUTLINED
A senior Administration official, briefing reporters today on these meetings, said they will not be negotiating sessions but an “exchange of views on how best to restore momentum to the Middle East peace negotiations.”
He said the Arab League delegation is expected to seek “clarification” on President Reagan’s peace initiative while the Administration will seek clarification of the communique issued at the Arab League summit conference in Fez, Morocco last month.
In particular, the official said, the U.S. would like to know if the implications in the plan proposed by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia last year and in the Fez summit communique, that the Arabs are willing to recognize and live in peace with Israel, are actually the Arab view. “If this is what it meant, why not just say so?” the official said. He said it was time for the Arabs to “come out of the closet” on this issue.
CITES AIM OF REAGAN’S PROPOSALS
The official stressed that Reagan’s proposals were aimed at broadened Arab participation in the Middle East peace talks. “Negotiations for peace must take place around the table between Arabs and Israelis,” he said. He observed that negotiations cannot be between the U.S. and the Arabs and the U.S. and Israel, but the U.S. can participate in negotiations at the table with Arabs and Israelis.
The official also stressed that all negotiations must be based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and on the Camp David accords. He noted that the negotiations are in two stages, the first being the autonomy talks which the U.S. is now trying to revive and, after a transition period following implementation of an autonomy agreement, a final stage of peace talks.
He said Reagan, in his September I speech, did not outline a plan but only proposals to facilitate the autonomy talks and suggestions that could form the basis for a just peace settlement. The official stressed that the President’s proposals aimed at getting the Arab countries to join the autonomy talks. The official noted that for those who want to achieve peace, help the Palestinians obtain their rights or guarantee secure borders, “there is no alternative”, but to negotiate. He said this is the “full thrust of the President’s proposals of September 1.” He stressed at the some time that no one is being asked to give up their positions as a precondition to coming to the negotiating table.
The U.S. is expected to use the talks here tomorrow to press the Arab League to allow Jordan to represent the Palestinians at the autonomy negotiations as President Reagan has recommended. The Administration official said today that most Palestinians living on the West Bank, Gaza and in Jordan support the proposal that King Hussein of Jordan speak for them.