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US says top Mideast goal is to check Soviet gains

The Reagan administration said its top priority in the Middle East was to reverse "the deteriorating position of the West vis-a-vis the Soviet Union" and not continuation of Israeli-Egyptian negotiations. State Department spokesman William Dyess said the United States was willing to take part in future rounds of the talks on Palestinian self-rule if Egypt and Israel agreed on a time.

Mr Dyess' remarks appeared to be the Administration's response to a call by visiting Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir for early resumption of the autonomy talks, suspended after the Nov. 4 election.

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