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Israel, Egypt to Hold Trade Talks

March 9, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel and Egypt will open trade talks in Cairo next week aimed at resuming commercial relations frozen since Israel’s invasion of Lebanon last June. This announcement followed two days of meetings in Ismailia last week over the disputed Taba region, the first since Egypt suspended negotiations last summer because of the war in Lebanon.

Although the Ismailia meeting adjourned without making progress on the border dispute and without setting a date for the next session, the very fact it was held indicated that a thaw in relations between Cairo and Jerusalem was underway.

That was re-enforced by statements by President Hosni Mubarak’s close aide, Osama El-Baz and by Mubarak himself, making it clear that Egypt considers its relations with Israel to be of utmost importance and that it is firmly committed to the Camp David peace process.

The Egyptians moreover bowed to Israel’s demands that negotiations over the future status of the Taba region be coordinated with advancing the normalization of relations between the two countries. The upcoming trade talks in Cairo is viewed as a sign of Egypt’s compliance with Israel’s terms for resuming the Taba negotiations.

Israeli observers say Egypt may have decided to resume the dialogue for fear that the freeze could deepen and lead eventually to a deterioration of relations with Israel which might endanger the peace treaty between them. El-Baz, in an interview with a Saudi Arabian newspaper, warned that it is not in the Arabs’ interest to allow the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty to become “fragile” or to collapse because of specific Israeli policies. El-Baz stressed Egypt’s commitment to Camp David, noting that it had succeeded in at least one respect — the recovery of Sinai by Egypt.

Mubarak, who is presently attending the conference of non-aligned nations in New Delhi, also confirmed Egypt’s commitment to Camp David in remarks to officials of the ruling National Democratic Party in Cairo before leaving for India.

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