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Peres Welcomes Hussein's 'Positive' Response on Peace Talks

October 26, 1985|From Times Wire Services

TEL AVIV — Prime Minister Shimon Peres on Friday welcomed what he called the first positive response from Jordan's King Hussein to Israel's proposal for direct peace talks between the two countries.

"We know that for the first time Hussein responded positively to the Israeli proposal, publicly and unequivocally," Peres told Israel Television.

Peres, interviewed in Paris after meeting with President Francois Mitterrand, said "we know that in the same interview (Hussein) said that he would reassess his policy" about cooperation with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Peres also told reporters in Paris that he did not completely reject Hussein's demand that negotiations be held in the framework of an international peace conference.

Diplomatic Relations Stressed

But the Israeli leader stressed that any other country involved in the peace negotiations must have relations with both Israel and Jordan, and that his government would reject Soviet participation unless the Kremlin renewed diplomatic relations with Israel.

"If the Russians do not establish diplomatic relations with Israel, Israel will be opposed to the participation of the Russians in the diplomacy of peace in the Middle East," he said.

The Israeli prime minister said he discussed his peace proposal with Mitterrand, who is to meet with Hussein, who will be visiting Paris, in about two weeks.

An Israeli official said Peres and Mitterrand were in "complete agreement" on the topics covered in the meeting.

Movement Toward Talks Seen

Peres told Israel Army Radio earlier Friday that he saw movement toward peace talks with Jordan.

"The situation is dynamic. There are developments and there is movement, but I don't want to go into details," Peres said.

Before leaving New York, Peres was briefed by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard W. Murphy, who returned from an unannounced trip to meet with Hussein in Amman.

In a separate interview with the Yediot Aharonot newspaper published Friday, Peres said he might be more flexible on an international conference sought by Hussein if the king breaks his partnership with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.

"If it is possible to oust the PLO from the picture, then one should be a little more relaxed about the international framework," Peres was quoted as saying.

Low-Level Talks Expected

The army radio reported that Israel and Jordan appeared to be close to an agreement for a meeting of low-level working teams to discuss how peace talks could be held under an international umbrella.

The English-language Jerusalem Post quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying that the two sides were on the verge of an agreement but that some issues remained to be resolved.

The optimistic reports came a day after Hussein said a peace proposal Peres presented to the United Nations on Monday contained "some positive development" toward meeting his demand that Mideast peace be discussed at an international conference.

The Jordanian monarch also said he is reassessing his Feb. 11 agreement to work jointly toward peace with the PLO.

"We're not very happy with the situation," Hussein said. "We are going to have very shortly a very serious discussion with the PLO leadership to ascertain where we go from here."

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