U.S. Official in Shuttle Diplomacy in the Mideast in Preparation for Peres-mubarak Summit Meeting

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy left here for Amman Tuesday morning in order to meet Jordan’s King Hussein before he leaves on a private trip to Great Britain.

Murphy flew into Israel Monday evening and met late into the night with Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Murphy is due back here Wednesday for talks with Vice Premier Yitzhak Shamir and other officials and is expected to shuttle to Cairo and perhaps again to Amman for further talks.

Murphy’s visit is seen as preparatory to the anticipated meeting between Peres and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, tentatively scheduled for next week.

Israeli and U.S. officials are not divulging substantive information on Murphy’s mission, but informed observers believe he is seeking common ground between the three nations on terms for an international preparatory conference on the Middle East.

Such a conference, with protagonists and major outside powers participating, would lay ground rules for an eventual peace conference. This method was tried in Cairo in December 1977. Following President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem, the U.S. and the UN sought to convene a preparatory conference designed to pave the way to a resumption of the short-lived 1973 Geneva peace conference. The meeting, however, was boycotted by all Arab parties save Egypt.

SOME OF THE ISSUES UNDER DISCUSSION

Among the issues believed to be under discussion with Murphy is the decision-making process at such a conference. Israel insists that no decision be forced upon her by a majority vote, as the majority would be weighted against her.

Another unresolved issue is Palestinian representation. As for the past two years, the key lies with Hussein: Is he prepared to cooperate in the creation of a Jordanian-Palestinian representation not necessarily approved by the PLO?

Some observers in Israel believe Jordan’s reinvigorated interest in West Bank Affairs reflects a determination to cultivate an alternative Palestinian leadership, following Hussein’s open rift with PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat in February.

But there has been no sign on the diplomatic front that Jordan is finally prepared to enter the peace process — even in a preparatory forum — with Israel.

WEIZMAN IS SHUTTLING IN EUROPE

Meanwhile, Minister-Without-Portfolio Ezer Weizman is preparing to meet with Premier Bettino Craxi and other Italian figures on the second leg of a briefing mission in Europe on behalf of Peres. On Monday Weizman met for 90 minutes with Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany.

While the Israeli envoy insisted to reporters in Bonn that his purpose was purely to familiarize Israel’s friends with ongoing Mideast developments, some observers here believe Weizman is also seeking European financial support for economic projects in the Mideast which Peres believes would aid the prospects of political progress.

Jordan’s five-year development plan for the West Bank is certainly one such project.

Shamir, speaking to reporters Monday night, said the prospects of a preparatory conference actually taking place were remote, as were other ideas that Peres had been floating.

Shamir said he was sure that Peres would not veer from the agreed coalition guidelines during his summit discussions with Mubarak.

As for Weizman’s mission — which was apparently arranged without Foreign Ministry involvement — Shamir was thickly sarcastic and disparaging, saying he knew nothing of the mission’s purpose.

NEXT STORY