U.S. Says It Won’t Talk to Plo; Murphy to Visit Mideast Next Week

The State Department stressed Wednesday that U.S. officials are prepared to meet at any time with “responsible Palestinians,” but not members of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“There’s no change in our policy toward the PLO and U.S. government contacts with the PLO,” State Department spokesman Charles Redman said.

He was responding to a report that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told an interviewer that he believes that the United States is ready to meet with non-prominent members of the PLO.

The U.S. position on the PLO since 1975 has been that it will have no contacts with the organization until it recognizes Israel’s right to exist and accepts U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. They call for the return of Arab land and recognize Israel’s right to exist within secure borders.

Redman announced that Richard Murphy, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, will go next week to Israel, Jordan, Syria and Egypt to discuss the peace process in the Middle East.

“As usual, he will be prepared to meet with responsible Palestinians to discuss the peace process on the same basis as Secretary (of State George) Shultz has offered to do during his trips to the Middle East,” Redman said.

When Shultz went to Israel in June, right after the Moscow summit, he sought to meet with Palestinians, but they refused to attend a scheduled meeting.

Redman said Murphy’s trip was not intended to pave the way for another visit by Shultz to the region.

Before going to the Middle East, Murphy will meet in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday with his Soviet counterpart, Vladimir Polyakov, to discuss the Mideast peace process and the Iran-Iraq war, Redman said.

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