TEL AVIV (Oct. 13)
Political sources here said Tuesday that Secretary of State George Shultz is determined that his visit here beginning later this week — his first since 1985 — will be productive and will get to the heart of the controversy over advancing the Middle East peace process.
According to the sources, quoted in Haaretz, Shultz has asked for no fewer than four meetings with Premier Yitzhak Shamir during his four-day stay in Israel. Their talks will doubtlessly cover the proposed international conference for Middle East peace, which Shamir adamantly opposes.
Pundits here believe Shultz will not attempt to exert pressure on Shamir to change his position but will offer answers and guarantees aimed at allaying the Premier’s fears about an international conference.
Shultz is also scheduled to meet with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin. They are expected to discuss U.S. weapons sales to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, strategic cooperation, and American assistance to cushion Israel’s economic losses from the government’s decision to abandon the Lavi fighterplane project.
Maariv reported that Shultz will also hold daily meetings with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who advocates an international conference.
Meanwhile, Abu Iyad, deputy to Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat, reportedly confirmed in Tunis Monday that the PLO has given the green light to several West Bank Palestinians to meet with Shultz. But sources in Jerusalem said Shultz’s planned meetings with Palestinian leaders may be called off because the Palestinians are afraid to attend.