U.S. Assures Israel Murphy Did Not Meet with Any Palestinian Leaders

The United States has assured Israel that Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, had not met and will not meet with Palestinian leaders, it was learned here today.

Murphy, who met with Jordanian, Israeli and Egyptian government officials during his visit to the region last week, concluded his visit to the area with another visit to Amman, Jordan, yesterday before returning to the U.S. today. It was announed in Amman today that Murphy might meet with Palestinian representatives before his departure, but sources in Jerusalem insisted that the Jordanian report was groundless.

In Washington last week, State Department deputy spokesman Charles Redman stressed that Murphy had not scheduled any meetings with Palestinians, although State Department officials have pointed out that he has normally met with Palestinians on his previous visits to Amman and Jerusalem.

While Murphy apparently had a great deal of leeway on deciding with whom to talk while visiting Jordan, Israel and Egypt, Redman stressed that he cannot meet with members of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Israel had been concerned about a possible U.S. meeting with a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation during Murphy’s current visit to the Middle East.

ISRAEL’S CONCERN

Israel has been concerned about such a meeting ever since Jordan’s King Hussein 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 the U.S. recognition of the PLO. Two of the Palestinians on the list are Hana Seniora, editor of the pro-PLO Arabic East Jerusalem daily, Al Fajar, and Fayez Abu Rahme, a Gaza lawyer.

In meeting with Premier Shimon Peres and Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir last Thursday, Murphy said that Hussein was continuing to insist that any negotiations with Israel must be part of an international peace conference, with PLO participation. Murphy also said that Hussein continued to demand that the PLO participate in any joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation that might meet with the U.S. or take part in future peace negotiations.

A senior Israeli official said afterwards that Murphy, in his meeting with Peres and Shamir, made it clear that the U.S. position is that there should be direct talks between Israel and Jordan, not an international conference, and that there should be no dialogue with the PLO until it recognizes Israel and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

NO AGREEMENT ON U.S. DIALOGUE WITH DELEGATION

Before Murphy left Amman today, it was apparent that there was no immediate agreement on Jordan’s call for an American dialogue with a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation as a prelude to a wider peace conference. The U.S. Embassy in Amman released a written statement by Murphy which said: “The U.S. remains willing to hold a meeting with a joint Jordanian-Palestinian group if it contributes to launching us on such a course.” He added, “The objective remains to chart a feasible and expeditious course for the entire processnot just one meeting.”

Murphy said he was returning to Washington to report to President Reagan and to Secretary of State George Shultz “as they consider what we can reasonably do to support whatever steps the parties in the region may be able to take in the coming weeks.”

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