WASHINGTON (Nov. 13)
One the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s arrival in Washington, the State Department maintained it had not yet made a decision on the assurances sought by Israel for talks with the Palestinians.
Shamir, who arrives in Washington on Tuesday, is scheduled to meet President Bush at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, after a working luncheon with Secretary of State James Baker at the State Department.
The White House announced the meeting late last Thursday, after weeks of stalling on an invitation for Shamir, who is coming to the United States to address the 58th General Assembly of the Conference of Jewish Federations Thursday night in Cincinnati.
Before his address to the CJF, Shamir plans to have a 30-minute meeting with former President Ronald Reagan.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Monday that the Shamir-Bush meeting will run from a half-hour to an hour. At the State Department, deputy spokesman Richard Boucher said the meeting there will be “small,” in terms of people participating.
This could mean a more vigorous exchange of views on Israel’s terms for accepting Baker’s five-point proposal for Israeli-Palestinian talks. Israel accepted the plan with the understanding that it would receive six “assurances” from the United States, including no Palestine Liberation Organization participation in the negotiations.
NO ACCEPTANCE YET FROM EGYPT
Boucher said that the United States is still waiting for Egypt’s acceptance of the “basic framework” outlined in Baker’s five points. He indicated that after Egypt gives its acceptance, the United States will consider “Israeli assumptions” and Egyptian requests for clarifications.
In an appearance Sunday on ABC-TV’s “This Week with David Brinkley” program, Baker said progress in the Middle East can only be made with “small steps.”
“As long as there’s any hope in the Middle East peace process, you’ve got to keep plugging away,” he said.
While in Washington, Shamir is also scheduled to have separate meetings Thursday with the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees, before flying to Cincinnati.
He leaves Cincinnati for Los Angles, where he will address the World Affairs Council on Friday and a Jewish community rally Sunday at Temple Beth Am.
Shamir’s last stop will be New York, where he will meet Monday with Mayor-elect David Dinkins and then address the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Before leaving for Israel on Monday night, Shamir will address a Jewish community rally at the Edward R. Murrow School in Brooklyn.