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March 16, 1990 - Image 112

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-16

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KA A prki 16


Baker: Not Pressuring
Israel Into PLO Talks


Washington Correspondent


ecretary of State
James Baker, in an
exclusive interview
this week, acknowledged
that while he is concen-
trating on starting the first
dialogue between Israelis
and Palestinians, progress
on Mideast peace "is an
extraordinarily difficult
In the interview, which
took place prior to the split
in the Israeli government,
Baker said that Mideast
peace progress must be
viewed "in terms of small
"We need to crawl before
we walk," he said, "and to
walk before we run. Too
many people get hung up on
what should be the perma-
nent status and final
result." He said the impor-
tant issue was to
"concentrate on getting a
dialogue going because only
in direct negotiations bet-
ween the parties involved is
there a chance for peace."
Is Baker impatient about
getting the peace talks mov-
ing? He noted that the
United States serves as a
"catalyst" and that if the
parties are not willing to
"take some of the initial
steps, we won't get
"We don't want to beat our
heads against a wall," he
Baker said he has spent
the past five months trying
to bring the parties together
and that he has seen pro-
gress in discussions with the
Israelis and the Egyptians.
"The gaps that separate
them are real," he said.
"Mistrust remains high."
He said he would continue
his efforts as long as there is
As for a Soviet role in mov-
ing the Arabs toward the
peace table, Baker said
Washington has asked
Moscow to use its influence
on the Arab states. He said
that before Moscow par-
ticipates in any dialogue, it
should first renew diplo-
matic relations with Israel,
severed in 1967.
Baker denied criticism
that he has been treating
Israeli Prime Minister Yit-
zhak Shamir and Palestine
Liberation Organization
chairman Yassir Arafat as
equals in the equation.
"I have never taken a posi-
tion of equality or

James Baker:
"Practical approach."

equivalency," he said, ad-
ding that the U.S. dialogue
with the PLO is separate,
conducted by the U.S. am-
bassador in Tunis. He said
that dialogue will continue
as long as the PLO main-
tains its commitments of
December 1988, which in-
clude acceptance of United
Nations Resolutions 242 and
338, and renunciation of
America is seeking to de-
termine whether the PLO is
prepared to go along with "a
practical approach" to peace,
according to Baker.
"Specifically, we want to see
if the PLO is willing to
acquiesce in a process that
has a chance to go
someplace. We're seeking
the PLO's acquiescence, not
its approval."

The Secretary of State de-
nied reports that he has been
pressuring Israel. He said he
has told the Egyptians "we
recognize that Israel will not
sit with any party she
doesn't want to, and I've told
the Israelis it's not our aim
to force them to deal with
the PLO."
The U.S. position is not to
support a PLO state, said
Baker, "but it's up to
negotiations as to any out-
come. Whatever the parties
agree to, we support."
Baker asserted that U.S.
financial support for Israel is
as high as it is (approximate-
ly $3 billion a year) "because
she is an ally and a democ-
racy. There is an important
strategic component to our
assistance to Israel, and our
commitment is longstan-
ding, enduring, and will con-
tinue." ❑

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