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Arab League Says Preparations Under Way for U.N. Peace Talks

U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar is beginning “intensive discussions” with the five permanent members of the Security Council to prepare for a Middle East peace conference, the Arab League’s U.N. observer claimed Tuesday.

A U.N. spokesperson was unable to confirm the report Wednesday, and a spokesperson for the U.S. mission said the secretary-general had not approached the American ambassador on the topic.

“I understand that the secretary-general is undertaking today, this afternoon, with the permanent members of the Security Council, discussions on the international conference,” Arab League representative Clovis Maksoud told a news conference Tuesday.

He said the discussions would focus on the situation in the territories and the escalating violence in Lebanon’s civil war. Maksoud said he discussed both issues with Perez de Cuellar and was satisfied with his responses.

The General Assembly has repeatedly called for an international conference to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Perez de Cuellar said recently that the Security Council should lead urgent efforts to promote Middle East peace negotiations.

Both Israel and the United States oppose an international conference. The United States supports Israel’s position that there is no substitute for direct negotiations among individual parties to the dispute.

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