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Shamir Fails to Get Assurances in Meetings with Bush and Baker

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir emerged from talks with President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker on Wednesday without receiving the assurances Israel asked for in accepting Baker’s five-point proposal for Israeli-Palestinian talks.

But Shamir did say that “there is no more tension” between the U.S. and Israel, and that various problems were clarified.

Speaking after his one-hour White House meeting with Bush, Shamir indicated that a response from the United States would not come until Egypt also accepted the five points.

However, after Shamir had met with Baker at the State Department prior to the White House meeting, both Shamir and Baker said that “some progress” had been made.

A senior administration official, briefing reporters after both meetings, defined progress as both sides now having a better understanding of their positions.

Shamir said that some of the points raised during the meeting with Bush were U.S. concerns over Israel’s military relationship with South Africa and Israel’ settlement policy.

The administration official would not give any details except to say that Bush had raised these concerns with Shamir.

DENIES ANY TENSION

The official denied that there had been any tension between Israel and the United States except for the normal differences that friends have.

He said the “tensions” were only in the newspapers and that the administration had paid no attention to them.

Despite this denial, the White House did not schedule Shamir’s meeting with Bush until six days before it took place, even though the Israelis had requested the meeting two months ago.

Shamir described both his talks at the State Department and the White House as “very friendly.” The issue of Baker’s five points and the assurances Israel wants against PLO participation in negotiations were discussed mainly during the talks at the State Department.

Shamir and Bush talked about the Middle East peace process in general, but did not discuss the assurances specifically, Shamir said.

Shamir stressed that the assurances Israel is seeking are “not contradictory to the spirit” of Baker’s five points. Rather, “our assumptions will give more strength” to the Baker proposals.

At the White House, Shamir cautioned that it will take a long time to bring fruition to the Israeli peace initiative. He said it is “not an easy” task.

In his remarks at the State Department, Shamir indicated that he would like Baker to come to Israel. Baker did not respond, but has been unwilling to go to Israel until an agreement is reached on the Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Earlier in the day, Shamir met with Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney in what an Israeli spokesperson called “a good meeting.”

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