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Looking past Sinai pullout to possible autonomy talks

A day after Egypt regained full control over the Sinai Peninsula, only minor problems were experienced in relations between Egypt and Israel - but rhetorical thrusts on the Palestinian issue were being made by both sides, Monitor correspondent John Yemma reports.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has again promised that the Camp David treaty would be the model for an expanded Arab-Israeli peace, but said the solution of the Palestinian problem is the key. (In a speech in parliament Monday, Mr. Mubarak lashed out at Israeli repression of Palestinians in the West Bank and recent attacks on Lebanon, noting that these events ''are a proof of the necessity of speeding up the widening of the scope of peace.'')

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Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin repeated government statements calling the West Bank and Gaza Strip nonnegotiable. Nevertheless, Israeli autonomy negotiator Yosef Burg asked Cairo for a new effort on the Palestinian autonomy question.

Israeli officials and Western diplomats here believe it is possible the gulf between Israel and Egypt on this issue will widen if US mediation is not actively involved in urging on the Camp David autonomy talks.

Still, there were indications April 26 that remaining Israeli-Egyptian border problems were on the way to solution. Israeli officials reported reaching agreement with Egypt on the disputed status of the plot of Sinai at Wadi Taba on the Gulf of Aqaba. Under the agreement, both sides would withdraw their forces to the line the other side claims as the border.


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