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King Hussein Backs Plan for Dialogue : Endorses Mubarak's Request for Talks by U.S., Palestine

March 06, 1985|Associated Press

HURGHADA, Egypt — King Hussein of Jordan today endorsed President Hosni Mubarak's call for a U.S.-Palestine dialogue as the first step toward reviving Middle East peace talks with Israel.

The two Arab leaders, speaking with reporters after a meeting in this Red Sea resort of Hurghada, also insisted that the Palestine Liberation Organization play a major role in the dialogue.

"I never said that the Palestinian delegates should not be PLO members," Mubarak said. "I said more than once that the PLO is everywhere in the West Bank, in Gaza."

The United States refuses to talk with the PLO until the organization recognizes Israel's right to exist in peace. Israel opposes any negotiations with the PLO but says it will talk to Palestinians not affiliated with the guerrilla movement.

Private Talks Begin

Hussein, heading a high-level delegation, began private talks with Mubarak shortly after his arrival at Hurghada, 330 miles southeast of Cairo. Egyptian officials said a coordinated Egyptian-Jordanian position is vital to Mubarak's talks with President Reagan beginning March 12.

Mubarak noted that the Arab League recognizes the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people and "we cannot deviate from this because this is not our right."

Mubarak has said he will try to get the United States to open a dialogue in Washington with a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation as a prelude to peace talks with Israel.

"I share President Mubarak's feelings that the dialogue he suggested is a very vital element for progress," Hussein said. "Once again, we are in the position of having made the first vital move. We have to wait for the reaction now."

Depends on United States

Hussein said it was up to the United States to decide whether to respond favorably to Mubarak's proposals and the Feb. 11 agreement between Jordan and the PLO on a strategy for peace.

"This may be the last chance, in fact it is the last chance," Hussein said. "I cannot guarantee anything in advance. I can guarantee my word only. . . . It is up to the United States to decide."

Hussein added that "there is a very narrow window for hope" that the renewed efforts to bring peace to the Middle East would succeed.

Mubarak also has suggested that once the negotiations achieve a tentative settlement of the Palestinian problem, an international conference with the Soviet Union and other nations could be convened to endorse it.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said today that "some problems" exist with Egypt's proposal.

But, Rabin told leaders of the United Jewish Appeal, "I believe it's in our interest to explore every avenue, every slightest possibility to move towards peace."

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