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Talks On Taba Border Dispute Begin

February 6, 1986

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Israeli and Egyptian negotiators began talks Wednesday on an Israeli proposal aimed at simultaneously resolving a border dispute and improving relations between the two countries.

On Jan. 13, the Israeli Cabinet approved a 14-point proposal which included agreement to settle the dispute over the 250-acre Taba border area in the Sinai peninsula by binding international arbitration.

Egypt welcomed Israel’s agreement to binding arbitration, but President Hosni Mubarak and Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel-Meguid said Egypt had ″reservations″ about certain points in the Israeli formula, which they did not specify.

Nabil el-Araby, Egypt’s chief delegate to the talks, said Egypt rejects an Israeli suggestion that arbiters try non-binding conciliation for about eight months.

El-Araby, who spoke in an interview with the state-owned weekly, al- Mussawar, to be published Thursday, also took exception to Israel’s linking of arbitration with improved relations in such fields as trade and tourism. He said the latter ″should be completely separate from Taba and arbitration,″ according to an advance copy of the magazine obtained by The Associated Press.

The Israeli and Egyptian teams held an informal first meeting that lasted 90 minutes at a luxury hotel on Cairo’s western outskirts.

Israeli Embassy spokesman Isaac Bar-Moshe told reporters the conferees decided to set up two committees, one to discuss an agreement on the terms of arbitration and the other to deal with ways of improving relations.

Among those at the informal meeting were el-Araby and the two senior members of the Israeli team - Avraham Tamir, director-general of Prime Minister Shimon Peres’ office, and David Kimche, director-general of the Foreign Ministry.

The United States, which mediated the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and has sat in on the border dispute talks since they began in 1982, was represented by Cairo Embassy Counselor George Sherman and Tel Aviv Embassy official Dan Kurtzer.

The two working groups met after a 30-minute formal session attended by the full delegations.

Egyptian delegation spokesman Mahmoud Osman told reporters the talks were going on ″in an amicable and friendly atmosphere ... Each delegation has demonstrated ample willingness to press on with good intentions to reach a conclusion.″

Israel completed withdrawal from the Sinai in April 1982 under the peace treaty, but retained control of Taba.

Kimche said the talks would last for two days with the next round to be held in Israel.

After the informal meeting with the Egyptian side, Kimche told reporters relations with Egypt would not be affected by Tuesday’s interception by Israeli jet fighters of a Libyan plane.

The executive jet was suspected of carrying Palestinian guerrillas but turned out to have Syrian politicians aboard.

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