U.S. Warns Arab World to Seize ‘a Unique Moment’

The Reagan Administration warned the Arab world today that it must seize “a unique moment” before it is lost and come to the negotiating table which, it stressed, was the only place where the Palestinian problem could be solved.

The warning came after Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat left Amman for Kuwait today without giving King Hussein of Jordan the green light the King says he needs to enter the negotiations for autonomy for the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza.

“What is needed is a prompt move to the negotiating table,” State Department spokesman John Hughes said. “It is only there that a solution to the Palestinian problem in all its aspects can be found.” He said that President Reagan’s September I Middle East peace initiative, “based on UN Security Council Resolution 242, provides the best means for accomplishing that goal.”

“King Hussein has taken the lead in recognizing the opportunity currently available for revitalizing the peace process,” Hughes added. “We hope that others as well will recognize that this is a unique moment which must be seized before it is lost and that they will support the King in his desire to move forward toward peace.”

AIM OF THE STATEMENT

The statement seemed to be aimed at Arafat or beyond him, to an Arab League Summit conference that is expected to be held in Morocco April 16-17. But Hughes refused to be specific. He noted that there already has been a great deal of talk, Hussein talking to people, Arafat talking to people and it was time to bring the talks to “conclusion.”

But at the same time, Hughes denied that the U.S. was “disappointed” that the latest talks in Amman between Arafat and Hussein had not ended with Hussein announcing he would join the negotiations. Hughes said that since Arafat and Hussein planned other talks, the “round of discussions” was continuing and it was “too early” now to make any judgement.

Hughes made it clear that Reagan would not change his proposals to meet the demands made by Arafat. “The President is very clear about what he announced on September 1,” the spokesman said. “His strict adherence to that position has not changed.”

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