WASHINGTON (Oct. 24)
A high level Arab delegation ended talks with President Reagan and other Administration officials Friday without giving the Administration the clear public assurance it sought that the Arabs were ready to accept Israel’s right to exist and negotiate with the Jewish State without any pre-conditions.
“This has not yet happened,” a senior Administration official said after six Arab Foreign Ministers led by King Hassan of Morocco, chairman of the Arab League, met for nearly three hours with Reagan at the White House.
His remarks were confirmed by Hassan at a press conference here yesterday. “Our presence here … shows that we also want ourselves to live in peace with Israel” Hassan said. “But conditions have to exist in order For this to happen.” He listed the condition of Israel’s return to the pre-1967 border.
NECESSITY OF HUSSEIN-PLO AGREEMENT
Hassan seemed to confirm a statement by a U.S. official Friday that while the Arab countries would support Jordan representing the Palestinians in the autonomy negotiations, as Reagan suggested in his September 1 peace initiative, this would first require an agreement between King Hussein and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The official, in briefing reporters, also said the Arab leaders had implied that a “dramatic” development could occur at the next meeting of the Palestine National Council in four to six weeks.
At his press conference yesterday, Hassan said a “common move” and a “common approach” by the Jordanian King and the PLO is “absolutely necessary. How far will it go? When will it start? This depends on political environment conditions.”
Both Reagan and Hassan stressed that the meetings Friday were aimed at clarifying the President’s peace initiative and the communique issued at the close of the Arab League summit in Fez, Morocco last month. Hassan said yesterday that there is a need to bring the two positions closer together. He noted that Reagan told the Arabs “take account of my problems, take account of my concerns and I commit myself to be along side with you and take account of your problems and your concerns.”
The Arab League delegation, which included the Foreign Ministers of Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Jordan and Algeria, and Chedli Klibi, Secretary General of the Arab League, also met Friday with Secretary of State George Shultz and Vice President George Bush.
Reagan, in a departure statement on the south lawn Friday, said the White House meeting was “an important milestone along the road to a common objective, a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” But he pointed out that peace in that region “means achieving security for the Arab states, security for Israel and a sense of identity for the Palestinian people.” The President stressed that the “road to peace lies through a negotiating process which I hope can be resumed in the near future.”
CALLS FOR COEXISTENCE
Hassan, who speaks English, replied in Arabic, although he spoke French at his press conference yesterday. At the White House, the King said the Arabs want “peace with justice and dignity.” He said that United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Reagan initiative and the Fez communique provide the basis for “achieving our noble aim and objective which is peace and coexistence.” An Administration official said later Friday that the use of the term coexistence was “encouraging.”
Although Hassan did not mention Israel by name in his public statement at the White House, he had no inhibitions in speaking about the Jewish State in his press conference. He said that the Arabs have entered “a new phase in the Arab-Israel conflict. It is no longer the conflict of force, but the conflict of low and right.”
EXPLAINS KEY SECTION OF FEZ COMMUNIQUE
The King gave his own explanation of Paragraph 7 of the Fez communique which the U.S. sees as only implicit recognition of Israel and not the explicit recognition the U.S. has been urging. “Paragraph 7 means and shows the will of all Arab states to have war come to an end in the countries of the region and this should be done with the guarantee of all permanent members of the Security Council,” he said. “But in order to replace the state of war by the state of non-war you have to establish a certain mechanism” which Hassan said would be “well defined states and well defined borders.”
Hassan said this required Israel to return to its 1967 borders and then the Arabs will say “These are the borders of Israel and from then on Israel can then say ‘I’m living in peace, in security.” Hassan said when this happens, some Arab states might go further and negotiate normalization agreements with Israel while others might prefer to remain in a stage of non-war with the Jewish State.
OUTLINES SCENARIO FOR PEACE
In outlining a scenario for peace in the Middle East, Hassan said that the first thing to be conquered was the 40 years of “distrust” and replace it with confidence. He noted that after centuries of distrust between Germany and France, the two countries now work together in Europe.
However, Hassan urged that the term Camp David be dropped. “Call it camp something, what you want” after some place in the U.S. or Mideast but not Camp David, he said. The King said that negotiations would include as small a number of countries as possible, probably on the bilateral level, with the countries on Israels borders having the priority.
He said the problems of Syria are not the same as Jordan and Jordan’s are not the same as the Palestinians while his own country was 6,000 kilometers from the scene. But by these separate negotiations, all the countries of the Middle East would reach a common goal, Hassan said.
At the same time Hassan warned against having the United Nations work out a peace agree- ment. He said if all the countries in the UN were engaged in working out the document “we might not have an agreement by the middle of the next century, provided we are still around.”
Hassan stressed that he did not lead “a delegation” to Washington but a “team.” He said at the Fez summit it was established for the first time a “consensus” and “unanimity, solidarity and a positive attitude” among all the Arab countries who were present.
PLO REP IN OTHER MEETINGS
The visit to Washington was the first of five by the Arab League committee to explain the Fez communique. The group is also scheduled to go to the capitals of the four other permanent members of the Security Council — Britain, France, China and the Soviet Union.
At these meetings, the group will be accompanied by an official of the PLO. The U.S. made it clear that it would not accept a member of the PLO and none was present at the meetings here.
However, the Arab League said that Khalid al-Hassan, chairman of the PLO foreign relations committee, who travels on a Kuwaiti diplomatic passport, was in Washington during the meetings and was being kept informed by members of the delegation. State Department spokesman John Hughes said Friday the Department was not aware of the PLO official’s presence.