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U.S. Envoy Met with PLO Delegate, but in Security Council Capacity

U.S. and Israeli officials are refuting claims by the Palestine Liberation Organization that a meeting Monday between U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and the PLO’s U.N. delegate was a continuation of the U.S. PLO’s U.N. delegate was a continuation of the U.S. PLO dialogue.

According to a spokeswoman for the U.S. delegation, Ambassador Thomas Pickering met with Zehdi Terzi, head of the PLO’s observer mission to the United Nations, only in the U.S. ambassador’s role as president this month of the U.N. Security Council.

“There was no reflection upon our relations with the PLO, nor any direct bilateral issues,” said the spokeswoman. “The meeting dealt solely with Security Council matters. The only authorized channel for the PLO dialogue with the U.S. remains the ambassador to Tunis,” Robert Pelletreau.

Israeli officials expressed disappointment in the meeting, but they accepted Pickering’s explanation.

“We know about the meeting and understood it was done under the customs of the Security Council and no other way. It is not the kind of meeting that we can prevent, since it’s done under the jurisdiction of the Security Council,” said Barukh Binah, spokesman for the Israeli mission.

The last time an American delegate to the United Nations was known to speak with the PLO was 1979, when then-Ambassador Andrew Young held an unauthorized meeting with PLO representatives.

Young, who is black, resigned after the meeting became known, leading to a storm of anger by black leaders against the Jewish community, which strongly disapproved of the meeting.

RESOLUTION CONDEMNING ISRAEL

The Security Council presidency rotates among members of the body, who serve one-month terms. Pickering is serving his first term as president.

Pickering’s meeting with Terzi came as the Security Council prepared to debate a resolution condemning Israel for its handling of the Palestinian uprising.

The meeting was requested last week by Sudan on behalf of the Arab League. The Arabs are asking the Security Council to condemn Israel for violations of Palestinian human rights and the human rights standards contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In addition, they ask that Israel be condemned for “desecrating the Holy Koran.” When debate on the resolution opened Tuesday, Terzi read aloud a Jewish Telegraphic Agency report of Israeli soldiers who used pages from the Moslem holy book as toilet paper. Israeli officers called the incident inadvertent.

The Arab states tried to introduce a similar statement to the Security Council last month, but abandoned the effort after U.S. objections that it was too one-sided. U.S. officials are again expected to block the resolution when it comes to a vote, expected later in the week at the earliest.

In a statement to the Security Council on Wednesday, Israel’s acting ambassador, Johanan Bein, said that the Arab-Israeli conflict “will not be resolved here; it will not be resolved by blatant accusations, extreme demands and futile debates in this council.”

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