JERUSALEM (Dec. 18)
Donald Rumsfeld, President Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East, conferred with Israeli leaders here Friday following meetings in Damascus a day earlier with Syrian officials but not President Hafez Assad. The American diplomat was in Cairo today.
Rumsfeld met with Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Moshe Arens. He reportedly sought an Israeli promise not to interfere with the evacuation of Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat and 4,000 of his men from Tripoli in northern Lebanon, A Foreign Ministry spokesman said before Rumsfeld’s arrival in Jerusalem that Israel has not guaranteed safe conduct to Greek ships expected to begin the PLO evacuation tomorrow. An Italian hospital ship carried PLO wounded from Tripoli to Cyprus today. (See separate story.)
Rumsfeld made no statements to reporters after his meeting with Shamir saying that any comment might “hurt the cause.” There was speculation here that the U.S. is trying to improve relations with Syria despite today’s shelling of Syrian positions east of Beirut by ships of the U.S. Sixth Fleet.
Rumsfeld met with President Hosni Mubarak for two hours in Cairo today, mainly to allay Egypt’s concern over the U.S.-Israeli military and economic agreements reached at President Reagan’s meetings with Shamir and Arens in Washington earlier this month. Mubarak was quoted as telling reporters after meeting the American envoy that Rumsfeld’s explanation of the U.S.-Israel relationship was “convincing” to “a certain extent.” He added, “We will still exchange views.”