Reagan Says His Peace Initiative is Still the Best Way to Bring About Arab-israeli Negotiations

President Reagan maintained last night that he still is committed to his September 1, 1982 Middle East peace initiative as the best way to bring about Arab-Israeli negotiations, and that he believes King Hussein of Jordan will eventually join this process.

“I believe that King Hussein still feels and believes that he would have to be an important part, being the next door neighbor to Israel, in bringing about such negotiations,” Reagan said in a response to questions at a nationally televised press conference from the East Room of the White House.

The President did not directly refer to Hussein’s rejection of negotiations with Israel last month, coupled with his charge that the U.S. cannot be a peacemaker in the Middle East because it is seen as an ally of Israel. But most of his remarks seemed to be directed at this charge.

POLICY IS TO CONTINUE CAMP DAVID ACCESS

Reagan stressed that his Administration’s policy in the Middle East was an effort “to continue the Camp David process, to persuade other nations to do what Egypt did in making”peace with Israel. The President noted that that Arab nations have “never retreated from their position that Israel does not have the right to exist as a nation.”

He said the U.S. is “trying to persuade them that we can be even-handed, and that we are not trying to dictate any peace of any kind; that we simply want to be helpful if we can, an intermediary in bringing about a negotiation that will erase the issues and the problems that have kept them apart so that they can settle back and live in peace together. We are going to continue to try to do that,” the President said.

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