Israel's Peres Offers to Go to Jordan on Peace Quest

Associated Press

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres announced for the first time today that he is willing to go to Jordan to discuss a solution to the Middle East conflict.

Peres, speaking at a joint news conference with Italian Premier Bettino Craxi, said the leaders had agreed that direct Israeli-Jordanian peace negotiations were preferable to an international peace conference.

"If someone is interested in peace, why not take the first step--sit and talk," the Israeli leader said near the end of a three-day trip to Rome.

"I am ready to go to Amman. I am sure Israelis would like to see if (Jordanian) King Hussein would come to Jerusalem and announce whatever he has in mind," Peres said.

Peres has frequently issued public invitations to Hussein to open unconditional peace talks in Jerusalem, but it was the first time he has offered to go to Jordan.

Meanwhile, in Tunis, Tunisia, reliable Palestinian sources said today that the PLO Executive Committee has approved the accord on a joint Middle East peace strategy signed by Hussein and PLO chief Yasser Arafat.

Details of the Hussein-Arafat accord, signed Feb. 11 in the Jordanian capital of Amman, have not been made public, but private accounts say it calls for the PLO to attend an international peace conference aimed at creation of a Palestinian state on the Israeli-occupied West Bank of the Jordan and Gaza Strip. Such a state would be confederated in some way with Jordan.

Peres brushed aside consultations that ended today between U.S. and Soviet diplomats in Vienna on the Middle East, saying the two superpowers should work on their own problems.

Peres left later for Romania, an independent member of the Soviet Bloc that has been active for years in Mideast diplomatic contacts.

In Romania Peres is scheduled to hold a long meeting on Thursday with President Nicolae Ceausescu, who has often been a conduit for messages between Israel and the Arab nations.

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