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Shultz to Visit Mideast to Advance Peace Process

February 16, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Secretary of State George Shultz will leave for the Middle East on or about Feb. 24 “for the purpose of advancing the Middle East peace process,” the State Department announced Friday.

The details of Shultz’s trip were not released, but a State Department source said The Washington Post’s report Friday on the planned visit was “reasonable.” The newspaper reported that Shultz will visit Egypt, Jordan and Israel from Feb. 25 to 29.

Shultz intends to lobby Arab governments and Israel to support the recent U.S. peace proposal for Israel to accelerate from five years to a few months the Camp David timetable for allowing Palestinian autonomy in the administered territories.

An international peace conference that would lead to direct Arab-Israeli talks would soon follow, according to the U.S. proposal.

The initiative was launched the weekend following Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s trip here Jan. 26 to 29 and has been discussed by numerous traveling diplomats.

Concurrently in late January, former diplomat Philip Habib came out of retirement to visit Jordan and meet Mubarak’s entourage in Paris.

This past week, Richard Murphy, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, visited Saudi Arabia, Syria and Israel on a mission designed to involve the two Arab nations, which were not covered by the Habib mission. Murphy returned to Washington on Thursday.

Shultz’s flurry of trips abroad will begin in Europe this week. He will then stop in Moscow Feb. 21 to 23 to meet with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. Those trips are thought to be an attempt to garner additional support for achieving a Middle East peace settlement.

It is not clear whether Shultz will first return to the United States from Moscow or head directly to Cairo to see Mubarak.

From Egypt, Shultz will meet Jordan’s King Hussein in Amman and complete his Mideast swing with talks in Israel with Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on Feb. 28 and 29.

Shultz will then accompany President Reagan to the NATO summit in Brussels March 2 and 3.

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