WASHINGTON (Mar. 15)
Secretary of State George Shultz said Tuesday that he has so far been unable to alleviate Israeli Premier Yitzhak Shamir’s concerns about the Reagan administration’s peace initiative.
“We have discussed all of the various elements and we have not found a way to bridge all of the differences,” Shultz said as he and Shamir spoke to reporters after their 90-minute meeting at the State Department.
But, he added, “I see quite clearly what the nature of the differences are” between the U.S. plan and Shamir’s analysis of it.
The discussions will resume Wednesday when Shamir meets with Reagan at the White House. Shamir and Shultz will meet at least one more time before the premier leaves Washington on Thursday.
The new U.S. plan, which was submitted by Shultz to Israel and the Arab states, calls for negotiations to begin as early as May I between Israel and a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation on autonomy arrangements for the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The negotiations, which would last no longer than six months, would be followed in the seventh month by negotiations on the final status of the territories. Final-status talks would last no longer than an additional 12 months.
An international peace conference would be held two weeks before the start of the initial negotiations, presumably next month, but would not be able to impose solutions.
OPPOSED TO PEACE CONFERENCE
One of Shamir’s aims during his talks in the United States is to raise his objections to certain aspects of the plan, including the convening of an international peace conference.
Shamir said again Tuesday he does not “see any positive role for an international peace conference.”
It is unclear whether the plan could be modified at the request of Shamir or any Arab country that objects to certain components of the proposal.
Shultz told Shamir in a March 4 letter that the plan “is an integral whole” and “acceptance is dependent on the implementation of each clement in good faith.”
However, a senior administration official refused Monday to call it a “take-it-or-leave-it” plan, though he hoped the parties would be persuaded to accept it as a whole.
In addition to discussing the peace process, Shamir and Shultz talked about economic aid, strategic cooperation and Soviet Jewry, Shultz said.
Shultz described the meeting as “very constructive and worthwhile,” and enthusiastically said the two have “important things to work on.”
Shamir said he encouraged Shultz to advance the peace process. “Israel is always interested, always ready to make moves” toward peace,” he said. He complained, though, that Israel has yet to find “appropriate parties” to negotiate with.
At breakfast Tuesday at Shultz’s home, Shultz’s wife, Helena, cooked blueberry pancakes for Shamir, as she did for Foreign Minister Shimon Peres when he last visited the United States. The secretary appeared to be symbolically keeping his pledge to give Labor and Likud equal treatment.