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Jewish Leaders Meet Bush Aide to Review Foreign Policy Issues

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Two dozen Jewish organizational leaders met at the White House this week with National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft to recall U.S. foreign policy accomplishments of the past four years and look to the challenges that lie ahead.

The late-afternoon meeting Tuesday between Scowcroft and the members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations reportedly lasted about 45 minutes and was led by Shoshana Cardin, the umbrella group’s outgoing chairman.

Cardin reportedly opened the meeting by expressing appreciation for the relationship Scowcroft had maintained with the Jewish community. Despite disagreements, he had remained accessible, she said, according to one source.

Scowcroft, in turn, “expressed gratitude for the association,” calling it a “rich privilege.”

He then pointed with pride to Bush administration actions that had transformed the Middle East landscape and enhanced Israel’s security, including the Persian Gulf War and the Arab-Israeli peace process, begun a little more than a year ago in Madrid.

While he said there had been no substantive discussions with the incoming administration yet, he was confident the peace process would continue unabated.

In fact, President-elect Bill Clinton was meeting Wednesday with President Bush for an informal briefing on some foreign policy matters, which were almost certain to include the peace talks.

Scowcroft reportedly briefed the Jewish group on a range of issues, including the increasing threat to the region posed by Iran, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon and the overall rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

He also talked about refugees fleeing ethnic persecution in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Middle East arms purchases, including the recent revelation that the United States is considering a request by the United Arab Emirates to purchase photo reconnaissance or “spy” satellites.

The State Department said Tuesday that the UAE request would be reviewed only in the framework of a broad, coherent policy of technology transfer.

Following the meeting with Scowcroft, the Conference of Presidents held a reception honoring the members of the three Israeli negotiating teams participating in the bilateral peace talks here, which were due to recess Thursday.

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