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Weizman Meets with Mubarak

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Ezer Weizman met with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in Cairo today. He flew there secretly this morning on a special mission, the purpose of which was not disclosed but is believed to be an urgent attempt to arrange a summit meeting between Mubarak and Premier Shimon Peres.

Weizman, a Minister-Without-Portfolio attached to the Prime Minister’s Office, was accompanied by Gen. (Res.) Avraham Tamir, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, who has been closely involved in recent negotiations with Egypt. This trip was approved by Peres–who is in West Germany today–by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Weizman and Tamir were reportedly joined by Israel’s Ambassador to Egypt, Moshe Sasson, at their session with Mubarak. Weizman, who has had close contacts with Egyptian officials since his participation in the Camp David talks seven years ago, is said to fear that unless a Peres-Mubarak summit takes place soon, the entire peace process could be in jeopardy. Peres is believed to share this view.

FURTHER STRAIN IN ISRAELI-EGYPTIAN RELATIONS

Israel’s cool relations with Egypt were further strained last week by the unenthusiastic reception given in Cairo to Israel’s offer of a package deal to settle the Taba border dispute by international arbitration–as Egypt has demanded–and move at the same time to revive the stalled process of normalization between the two countries. The Egyptians insist that a summit date can be set only after a date is set for arbitration to begin.

They infuriated many Israelis by flatly refusing to give Israel the report of the special commission set up to investigate the murder of seven Israeli tourists by an Egyptian soldier at Ras Burka in eastern Sinai last October 1.

Weizman reportedly telephoned Mubarak over the worsening situation and was told by the Egyptian leader that he had an open invitation to visit Cairo. Weizman is also said to have informed Mubarak he would keep his visit secret lest it be jeopardized by elements of Likud. Likud circles in fact openly criticized their party leader Shamir today for approving Weizman’s trip.

URGENCY OF VISIT TO CAIRO

The urgency of his visit was underlined by the fact that Tamir, in effect a personal emissary of Peres, flew in from Europe where he had been escorting the Premier and immediately boarded Weizman’s plane to Cairo.

No details of the meeting with Mubarak were reported here. Weizman is believed to have explained to him the importance of the decision by the Inner Cabinet on January 13 to offer Egypt a package deal including arbitration over Taba.

Observers here said tonight that unless Weizman returns from Cairo with an agreement for an early summit, Peres’ prestige, no less than his own, would suffer a severe blow and the peace process will be in danger.

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