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U.S. Official Predicts Middle East Peace Progress This Year

Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Dam predicted today that progress toward peace in the Middle East can be made this year.

“The United States shares the view of the key players in the region that 1985 can be a year of opportunity, if the parties take advantage of today’s promising conditions,” Dam said in a speech to the American Law Institute.

He noted that Secretary of State George Shultz, in his recent visit to Israel, Egypt and Jordan, found “difficulties; but he also found a positive atmosphere, a genuine sense of movement, a widely shared desire to see things move forward, and an increasing sense of the importance of finding a way to get negotiations going.”

Dam added that when King Hussein of Jordan meets with President Reagan here on May 29, this “will provide yet another opportunity to improve the prospects for negotiations.”

BASIS FOR OPTIMISM

Dam gave the reason for his optimism the “warming” of relations between Israel and Egypt and “a growing cooperative spirit and unity of purpose among the moderate Arab states” to seek peace. “Within the Palestinian community, we have seen a more realistic attitude,” he noted, although he did not give any explanation of this comment.

Dam also stressed that “a strong, visible and permanent American commitment to Israel is essential in the search for peace. History demonstrates that movement toward peace can come only when no one in the Arab world or elsewhere has any doubt of the central reality that America’s support for Israel can never be weakened.”

As for Israel, “it will not change its policies in the face of military or terrorist threats, nor will the policies of the United States ever yield to terror or intimidation,” Dam stressed.

“Let no one miss the point: there are no military options. There are no terrorist options. The only way to achieve progress is through negotiations. The PLO attempt last month to stage a seaborne terrorist raid against Israel is unacceptable and can only obstruct movement towards peace. There will be no rewards for a strategy of attempting to shoot and negotiate at the same time.”

Dam repeated the United States position that in agreeing to direct negotiations, neither Israel nor the Arabs should seek guarantees or preconditions. “The place to negotiate is at the bargaining table,” he said.

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