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Shamir Again Rejects International Peace Talks

February 18, 1987|NORMAN KEMPSTER | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, making his first visit to Washington since last fall's rotation put him into the top spot in Israel's coalition government, on Tuesday reiterated his rejection of an international Middle East peace conference as a backdrop to negotiations between his nation and Jordan.

"I do not deny I strongly oppose an international conference," Shamir said after a nearly two-hour meeting with Secretary of State George P. Shultz at the State Department.

Jordan's King Hussein has called for a conference attended by Israel, its Arab neighbors, Palestinian representatives and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, which includes the United States, the Soviet Union and China.

Shamir's predecessor, Shimon Peres, said that Israel would attend such a conference if the Soviet Union and China renewed diplomatic relations with Jerusalem.

But Shamir, who is totally opposed to the conference proposal, said Tuesday that the idea was "a Soviet-inspired invention." The United States is unenthusiastic about the conference idea, but Shultz said Washington considered such a meeting to be one possible way of bringing Israel and its Arab adversaries to the bargaining table.

Shamir, who meets President Reagan today, plans to discuss the peace process, U.S. arms sales to Arab nations and Soviet Jewish emigration during his four-day stay. But it seems unlikely that the visit will mark any dramatic progress because Shamir and the Administration have differences on the issues that cannot be resolved without give-and-take negotiations.

Iran-Contras, Spy Issues

Also, the prime minister and his American hosts hope to gloss over the only two issues on which there is sharp disagreement--the Iran- contras affair and the Jonathan Jay Pollard spy case--because neither nation wants to tarnish their usually close relationship by bickering in public.

"We look forward to having open and friendly talks on all of the issues, as is common with such close friends," a senior Administration official told reporters. For his part, Shamir said: "Our relationship is very friendly . . . and I'm going to meet very good friends."

The Administration official, who spoke on the understanding that he not be identified, denied published reports that Reagan had agreed not even to mention Israel's role in U.S. arms sales to Iran and the diversion of funds to the Nicaraguan rebels or the activities of Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst who pleaded guilty to spying for Israel.

"There is no question that both of those issues will be brought up," the official said. "(But) given the ongoing bilateral discussions between our two governments and the evolving judicial processes, we don't expect either of them to be an important focus."

Reject Arms Arms Request

On other key issues, Israeli officials have said Shamir will urge Reagan to reject the requests of Jordan and Saudi Arabia for more sophisticated weapons. U.S. officials, however, say it is unlikely that the President will give any such assurance.

In addition, Shamir wants the United States to refuse to grant refugee status to Jews who are allowed to leave the Soviet Union, in effect pressuring them to settle in Israel instead of the United States.

However, the senior U.S. official said Washington believes that Soviet Jews should have "freedom of choice" about where they plan to live. At present, substantial numbers of Soviet Jewish emigres settle in the United States, although their exit visas authorized them to go to Israel.

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