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Hussein, Arafat reported closer

Three days of talks between PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Jordan's King Hussein appeared to have brought them nearer a joint approach toward a Middle East peace settlement.

The two men were expected to issue a joint communique, which was still being drafted at time of writing, Monitor contributor James Dorsey reports. Some observers here believed the communique would not entirely close the door on the US peace plan proposed by President Reagan Sept. 1. They expected that it would include aspects of the joint Arab position adopted at the Arab summit last fall in Fez, Morocco.

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The United States is eager for the King to enter the talks. But he has been reluctant to negotiate for the Palestinians without first receiving a green light from the Palestine Liberation Organization. The US refuses to deal directly with the PLO itself until the PLO recognizes Israel. Hussein has also sought US guarantees of a freeze on Israeli settlement on the West Bank and a stepped-up withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon.

In an apparent effort to keep his Mideast peace plan alive, President Reagan is reported to have telephoned King Hussein on Thursday and Saturday. The Jordanian newspaper Al-Rai reported that Reagan had told the King the US had other alternatives to pressure Israel. The President also announced a delay in delivery of F-16 jet fighters to Israel, reportedly because of the slow pace of Israeli troop withdrawal talks in Lebanon.

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