TEL AVIV (Dec. 19)
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has assured Secretary of State George Shultz that Israel continues to place its confidence and trust in the United States, despite deep disagreement over the U.S. move to begin talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Peres, chairman of the Labor Party, made public his reply to a letter he received from Shultz on Sunday explaining the U.S. position on its talks with the PLO, which began Friday in Tunisia.
Shultz sent an identical letter to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the Likud leader.
“While I remain convinced that the American decision was — at best — premature, I was reassured by the content of your letter, as well as by some additional information provided by (U.S.) Ambassador (Thomas) Pickering,” Peres wrote.
“Specifically, I took note of your challenges to the PLO to close the gap between the expressed commitment to abandon terrorism and the reality of its actions — in Israel, in the territories and elsewhere; your continued adherence to the longstanding American policy of not supporting the establishment of an independent Palestinian state; and the clarification that opening a dialogue, in and of itself, does not constitute American recognition of the PLO as a negotiating partner,” Peres wrote.
He added that the “lack of unanimity between us” on the “extent to which the PLO has already undergone a transformation” must not affect the “solid relationship between our two countries.
“Our complete trust in President Reagan and your own friendship served to reinforce the bond between our two countries. I am fully confident that this will be the case in future years as well,” Peres concluded.