Thatcher to Try out As Mideast Mediator
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Thatcher to Try out As Mideast Mediator

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British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is planning to intervene in the effort to secure an Arab-Israeli peace agreement.

Following her talks in London last week with Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Jordanian King Hussein, Thatcher is planning to visit both their countries as well as Egypt, diplomatic sources said here today.

She also had talks here last week with Secretary of State George Shultz. It is believed that the Americans are happy to let Thatcher take the initiative in trying to encourage negotiations involving the Israelis on one side and a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation on the other.

Last week, Thatcher and her government came out in support of Hussein’s bid to lead a joint Jordanian-Palestinian negotiating team in preliminary talks with the United States.

This involved her in what were termed brisk and uninhibited exchanges with Shamir — a euphemism for a shouting match.

However, she took the Israeli and U.S. side in expressing disapproval of Hussein’s suggestion of an international round table conference on the Middle East, including the Soviet Union.


At the same time, according to a press report here yesterday, Britain has also been advising Hussein to proceed cautiously, in case he endanger his own position by entering peace talks which would antagonize Syria and other extremist Arab states.

According to London Observer correspondent Patrick Seale, Hussein plans to host talks in Amman between Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and a joint delegation of Jordanians and non-PLO Palestinians. This is the move which some observers fear may leave Hussein dangerously exposed to the charge of seeking a separate peace, writes Seale.

If the report is accurate, it will revive Israel’s suspicions about the true intention of Britain’s Middle East policymakers, and memories of how, a generation ago, Britain discouraged Hussein’s grandfather, King Abdullah, from seeking a separate peace with Israel.

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