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Shamir, Reagan Meet; Shamir Praises U.S. Role in Persian Gulf

November 20, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir congratulated President Reagan today on ″the great American success″ in the Persian Gulf.

Shamir, talking to reporters after a brief meeting with Reagan in the Oval Office, said the high-profile U.S. military role in the gulf has lent security and stability to the troubled region, where Iran and Iraq have been waging war for over seven years.

Shamir arrived here after telling an audience in Miami Beach, Fla., on Thursday night that his nation’s relationship with the United States has never been better. He also offered to go anywhere for peace talks, including Jordan or other Arab countries.

″There is a convergence of interests between the U.S. and Israel in a very wide range of regional and international issues,″ Shamir told 3,000 Jewish leaders at the 56th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations.

″This has generated a degree of cooperation in strategic, political and economic spheres that is unprecedented in the history of U.S.-Israel relations,″ he said.

The Israeli leader, nothing that it was the 10th anniversary of late Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat’s historic trip to Jerusalem, said that King Hussein of Jordan is a natural choice as a partner with Israel in the search for Middle East peace.

″We would like to play host to him, as we did to President Sadat, but if necessary, we shall travel anywhere and negotiate until wereach agreement,″ Shamir said in Miami Beach.

Speaking to reporters gathered in the White House driveway today, Shamir credited the U.S. escort operation in the Persian Gulf sea lanes with having a calming and moderating influence in the region.

″We had a good conversation with the president,″ the prime minister said of his talks with Reagan, which came during an unofficial visit by the Israeli leader, about 10 days after Israeli President Chaim Herzog, who holds a mostly ceremonial post, paid a state visit here.

″I conveyed the wishes of the Israeli people, the Israeli government, to succeed in the coming summit talks with Soviet leaders,″ Shamir said of Reagan’s scheduled Dec. 8-10 summit with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

″I congratulated him on the great American success in the Persian Gulf,″ Shamir said. ″It changed the situation in our area.″

Speaking of the Arab League summit last month in Amman, Jordan, he said, ″There is some sign of moderation, and I think that the impact of the American activity in the Persian Gulf was very clear in this summit.″

Shamir said it seemed to him that the moderate Arab states had gained ″the upper hand.″

″We’ve seen in this summit a very clear witness″ of a trend toward some moderation, the prime minister said.

Shamir cited the decision by most of the moderate countries in the Arab world to resume diplomatic relations with Egypt, ″in spite of the fact that Egypt continues to respect and to keep peace with Israel. This is also a sign of some moderation and acceptance of the facts of life.″

Shamir was ″very explicit″ in praising the U.S. role in the gulf, a senior U.S. official said. ″He felt the U.S. stand made our message very clear to the Arab world,″ the official said, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity.

Reagan ″expressed pleasure at the categorical denial by Israeli leaders that Israel was not engaged in arms traffic with Iran,″ the official said.

He said Israel has assured the United States that it had checked thoroughly and found that no private Israeli arms merchants were dealing with Iran either, ″although they could not rule out that there are free-lancers.″

The official said the United States hopes the Soviet Union joins the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council in adopting sanctions against Iran, despite what he called ″a flirtation″ between Moscow and Tehran in recent months.

The Soviets and Iranians have been discussing joint economic projects.

The official indicated that the United States had proposed a meeting in Washington between Shamir and Hussein as part of efforts to get the stalled Middle East peace talks going, but he declined to elaborate. Hussein has reportedly rejected the proposal.

Shamir and his partner in Israel’s coalition government, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, responded warmly a week ago to an Arab League decision to permit renewal of ties to Egypt.

Several Persian Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have decided to resume relations with Egypt.

The Arab League suspended Egypt as a member when Sadat signed the peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Sadat was viewed as a traitor in the Arab world.

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