WASHINGTON (Dec. 21)
The State Department said today that two days of talks about the Middle East by the United States and the Soviet Union in Vienna were “useful in clarifying each side’s policies and positions.”
But State Department deputy spokesman Edward Djerejian reiterated again that the 10 hours of meetings between Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, and Vladimir Polyakov, head of the Soviet Foreign Ministry’s Near Eastern Division, were not attempts “to reach any agreements or understandings. “He added that “no follow-on was planned.”
The U.S. has repeatedly stressed that the Vienna meetings, which were held alternatively between the U.S. and Soviet Embassies there, were “exchanges of views” aimed at a clarification of the position of the two governments to “help avoid miscalculations and reduce the potential risk of U.S. -Soviet confrontation.”
DETAILS WON’T BE MADE PUBLIC
Djerejian said no details will be made public of the discussions. But it was learned that the U.S. did stress to the Soviet Union that if Moscow wanted to play a role in the Middle East peace process one of the necessary first steps is for it to have diplomatic relations with Israel as well as to improve conditions for Jews in the Soviet Union, including allowing increased emigration to Israel.
Administration sources also stated that the Soviets, as expected, raised their proposal for an international conference on the Middle East which would include the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and the parties involved in the Arab-Israel dispute. But the U.S. which rejects the international conference, reiterated the need for direct negotiations between the parties involved based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
Djerejian said the U.S. raised all the subjects it said it would bring up at the Vienna meeting. This included the Arab-Israel conflict, the Iran-Iraq war, Lebanon and Afghanistan.
But sources said that while the U.S. raised the issue of Afghanistan, the Soviets listened but did not reply on the ground that Polyakov’s department did not cover Afghanistan.
MORE INFORMATION SOUGHT ON HUSSEIN-ARAFAT ACCORD
Meanwhile, Djerejian indicated the U.S. is still waiting for more information about the agreement between King Hussein of Jordan and Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat on cooperating for negotiations. The agreement has now received an ambiguous approval from the PLO’s executive committee in Tunis.
“If what has been agreed upon constitutes agreement for direct negotiations with Israel on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 242 we would see it as a positive step, “Djerejian said.
He also repeated an earlier statement that 242″applies to all fronts and that obviously includes the Golan Heights. “When Djerejian first made this statement last week while King Fahd of Saudi Arabia was in Washington it was seen as an effort to encourage Syria to participate in the peace process or at least not block any Jordanian-PLO agreement as it has been trying to do.