Israel Expected to Seek More U.S. Pledges Before Dialogue

From Reuters

Israeli leaders agreed Friday to seek additional pledges of American support as a condition for accepting a U.S. proposal for Israeli-Palestinian talks in Cairo, political sources said.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and his three most powerful ministers agreed to seek the guarantees but would not ask that they be incorporated in a five-point proposal that Secretary of State James A. Baker III has already modified at Israel's request, the sources said.

PLO leaders, with whom Israel refuses to negotiate, were due to discuss Baker's latest proposals at a meeting in Cairo today.

Israeli-Palestinian talks would be intended as a prelude to Palestinian elections in the Israeli-occupied territories.

Sources on both sides of Israel's divided coalition government said Israel now wants separate U.S. assurances that the Palestine Liberation Organization would have no role and the Cairo talks would deal only with the elections.

Shamir, Foreign Minister Moshe Arens, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Vice Premier Shimon Peres discussed Baker's unpublished proposals for an hour Friday and said later that their search for a common position would continue.

"This effort will continue and hopefully succeed, and a joint formula will be submitted to the Cabinet," the four men said in a statement.

Rabin told reporters after the meeting that the final vote on whether to accept Baker's five-point plan will be taken in the 12-member Inner Cabinet.

Shamir's spokesman, Avi Pazner, said the Cabinet will not meet before Arens leaves for Japan on Sunday for a weeklong visit, leaving unclear when a final government position might emerge.

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