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Optimism over new Mideast talks

Sol M. Linowitz, President Carter's chief Middle East negotiator, appears relatively optimistic about the prospects for the President's forthcoming talks with the leaders of Egypt and Israel in Washington. Monitor correspondent Daniel Southerland reports that in a breakfast meeting with reporters, Mr. Linowitz said that Mr. Carter, Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin agree that there is a real possibility of working out an agreement on Palestinian autonomy by the Camp David target date, May 26.

Mr. Linowitz said that in his recent talks with Prime Minister Begin, Mr. Begin had not openly rejected his proposal for a freeze on new Israeli settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan but had given the idea serious consideration. He added that he would not be surprised if Mr. Begin was still seriously thinking about the proposal.

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The envoy also said that Mr. Carter was determined to do everthing he could to facilitate a Middle East settlement and that if it would help, the President would probably consider holding another Camp David summit meeting. As it is, the President is to meet separately with President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin, starting first with Mr. Sadat on April 8.


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