WASHINGTON (Aug. 13)
The State Department reiterated today that the United States will not meet with a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation unless such a meeting “clearly leads to our objective of direct negotiations” between Israel and the Jordanians and the Palestinians.
Department deputy spokesman Charles Redman also stressed that in no way would such a meeting be a U.S. “dialogue” with the Palestine Liberation Organization. “We will not engage in a substantive dialogue with the PLO until it accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and recognizes Israel’s right to exist,” Redman said.
Ever since King Hussein of Jordan submitted to the U.S. a list of seven Palestinians for Washington’s approval as the Palestinian members of the joint delegation, PLO spokesmen have been quoted in Arab newspapers as saying that if the U.S. meets with the delegation it will be the first step in U.S. recognition of the PLO.
Similar reassurances were presented in Jerusalem today by the American Ambassador, Thomas Pickering, in a verbal message from Secretary of State George Shultz to Premier Shimon Peres.
“We will not participate in indirect negotiations or pre-negotiations,” Redman said. “As move toward negotiations we will talk closely with Israel as we will with Jordan and Egypt. It is only by proceeding in this manner that we can promote our common objective of a negotiated settlement of the Middle East dispute.”
Redman repeated the comment of a State Department official, briefing reporters yesterday, who said that one “option” of the Murphy trip, which also includes visits to Israel and Egypt, could be Murphy meeting with the joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.
But Redman stressed today, as the official did yesterday, that for this to happen there first must be “mutually acceptable agreed conditons” and the talks must lead to direct negotiations.
NO DECISION YET ON THE HUSSEIN LIST
The U.S. has still not made any decision on the Hussein list which contains the names of only two persons living in the West Bank or Gaza and most of the members are considered to be members of the PLO. It is assumed here that Murphy will try to get Hussein to change some of the names, although Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead, when he was in Amman last week, was reportedly told by Hussein that he would not do so.
Thus, unless there is any change in Hussein’s position or in his demands for negotiatons with Israel under “an international umbrella” with the participation of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council it seems unlikely that Murphy will be meeting with the joint delegation if the U.S. sticks to its publicly stated position.
However, the State Department official told reporters yesterday that “we don’t expect major unexpected breakthroughs. The one thing clear in the Mideast is that things take time. We think the process is moving in the right direction.”
He added that one reason Murphy is “going out to the region right now is because we believe that the movement continues and it is time to engage directly with the parties to discuss and assess.”