JERUSALEM (Jan. 11)
U.S. special Ambassador Philip Habib was back in Jerusalem this evening, joined by his deputy, special envoy Morris Draper, from Beirut, in what appears to observers to be a major new American effort to achieve a breakthrough in the lagging negotiations between Israel and Lebanon. (Related story P. 3.)
Habib, who had been vacationing in Florida, was summoned to Washington last week. He conferred with President Reagan at the White House yesterday and left almost immediately afterwards for the Middle East, He is due to meet with Premier Menachem Begin here Thursday.
Meanwhile, an air of uncertainty hovered over the status of the talks. The Israeli, Lebanese and American delegations held their fifth round of negotiations yesterday at Khalde in Lebanon, reportedly without making progress toward agreement on an agenda. Israeli officials therefore reacted cautiously when asked to comment today on media reports that the Lebanese had accepted the latest American proposals for an agenda, produced by Draper.
According to the reports, the Lebanese rejected proposals submitted by Draper just before the weekend. The U.S. envoy, apparently expecting this, produced a new set of proposals yesterday, typewritten and ready for circulation among the three delegations. Some discussion ensued on points of text, the reports said.
But Israeli officials said they had no formal word from Lebanon as of today as to which version was accepted by the Lebanese. They also reacted tartly to media reports that the U.S. was impatient with the slow pace of the talks. They noted that it was Lebanon, not Israel, which rejected Draper’s earlier proposal.