Bush Urges Direct Talks Between Israel and Jordan As Next Step in Middle East Peace Efforts

U.S. Vice President George Bush Tuesday urged direct talks between Premier Shimon Peres and Jordan’s King Hussein as the next step in Middle East peace efforts.

In remarks to journalists during a tour of the Negev, Bush said, “We would like to see King Hussein have direct negotiations with the State of Israel.” He said Peres’ meeting last week with King Hassan of Morocco may aid in facilitating talks between Peres and the Jordanian monarch.

But Peres was quick to dash any speculation of an imminent meeting with Hussein. He told Israel Radio during the Negev tour with Bush that it would “take time” before he met with Hussein.

BUSH NOT PLANNING TO VISIT MOROCCO

Bush’s comments came as aides to the visiting American official sought to dampen speculation that the Vice President would make an unexpected visit to Morocco, site of the talks between Peres and Hassan.

Those talks marked the first public dialogue between an Arab head of state and an Israeli Premier since Anwar Sadat, the late Egyptian President, made his extraordinary visit to Jerusalem in November 1977.

Bush, in fact, said Tuesday that he was not planning to include Morocco on his present 10-day, three-nation tour of the Mideast, although he admitted considering a visit to Morocco. The Vice President indicated Hassan had not invited him to come at this time. Bush will go next to Jordan and then Egypt before returning to Washington.

VICE PRESIDENT VISITS THE NEGEV

Bush’s third day in Israel included a visit to Sde Boker, the kibbutz home of Ben Gurion, where he participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at Israel’s first Premier’s gravesite. Peres accompanied him to Sde Boker. Bush later proceeded to an air base as the guest of Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The substantive working sessions between Israeli officials and Bush have been scheduled for Wednesday in Jerusalem after which the U.S. Vice President is to hold a news conference. Israeli Cabinet Ministers were to meet Tuesday night with Peres to discuss problems holding up a contract with the U.S. for construction of a Voice of America transmitter in the Negev.

Local Negev settlements and major Israeli industrial and electronic firms are pressing the government in Jerusalem to insist on a larger role for Israeli firms in the construction and operation of the facility than the draft document envisages.

TABA TALKS SCHEDULED TO RESUME

It had been hoped that Bush would be able to attend a signing ceremony on the Taba arbitration talks between Israel and Egypt, in which the U.S. has participated. The pace of the talks rapidly accelerated earlier this week. But Israeli officials now doubt that documents can be signed or even initialled during Bush’s visit to the region. The talks are scheduled to resume Wednesday morning in Herzliya, outside Tel Aviv. The Egyptian team, led by top Foreign Ministry lawyer Nabil Arraby, flew to Israel Tuesday evening.

In addition to putting the finishing touches on the text, the two sides in the Taba talks must delineate the disputed zone, either in map form or in the form of aerial photographs. These maps or photos will serve as annexes to the document of arbitration.

POSSIBLE PERES-MUBARAK SUMMIT

There had also been speculation here that the Vice President could participate in a summit meeting between Peres and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. But while leading Egyptian journalist and Presidential confident Anis Mansour predicted in Jerusalem Monday that a Peres-Mubarak summit would take place very soon, he was unwilling to cite a specific date.

Mansour spoke to local reporters after meeting with Peres to interview him and also to convey a message from Mubarak. Peres is understood to have sent a message to Mubarak last weekend concerning his trip to Morocco.

On Tuesday, Mansour, formerly editor of October magazine, interviewed Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and paid the Likud leader the backhanded compliment that “You aren’t impatient and angry like your image in Egypt.”

Shamir retorted that he was rarely given the opportunity to present himself and his views to the Egyptian people through their media. Shamir complained to Mansour of the Egyptian media’s critical and often harsh anti-Israel and anti-Jewish tone.

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