Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, August 12, 1985, Page 12
Facts For Your Files: A Chronology of U.S.-Middle East Relations
Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin announced that Israel would release within 48 hours some 300 of the 735 Lebanese prisoners held in the Atlit prison near Haifa. Israeli officials said the announcement, made less than 24 hours after the end of the ordeal of TWA Flight 847, was not linked to the hijacking.
The U.S. Government announced that it is taking steps to close down Beirut International Airport, including termination of all services of Lebanon's Middle East Airlines between Beirut and New York as well as those of Lebanese and American cargo carriers that use Beirut Airport. Ambassador to the U.S. Abdallah Bouhabib protested that the action would damage the Lebanese people and government, but would not hurt the terrorists.
An Arab delegation met with Richard W. Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, to protest American actions aimed at closing Beirut International Airport. Led by the Kuwaiti Ambassador, Saud al-Sabah, the dean of the Arab diplomatic corps, and including Lebanese Ambassador Abdallah Bouhabib and Arab League Ambassador Clovis Maksoud, the delegation asked the State Department to reconsider what Arabs view as unwarranted actions being enacted against Lebanon. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, the Lebanese government protested that "the American response is not proportionate to the damage caused and does not punish the true perpetrators."
In an address to the American Bar Association, President Reagan characterized Iran, Libya, North Korea, Cuba and Nicaragua as a "confederation of terrorist states" guilty of "outright acts of war" against the United States. The President stated that "we must act against the criminal menace of terrorism with the full weight of the law..." and declared that acts of recent weeks were "the work of a confederation of terrorist states.
Mr. Reagan omitted Syria from the list, even though a State Department list of states allegedly supporting terrorism includes Syria.
A spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry said remarks by President Reagan characterizing Iran as a terrorist state were designed "to justify present and future aggression." In a speech quoted by the Iranian news agency IRNA, the spokesman said "the United States itself is the perpetrator of the biggest acts of state terrorism in the world."
Secretary of state George Shultz confirmed reports that the Administration had received from Jordan the names of Palestinians proposed for inclusion in a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation to meet with U.S. officials, in an effort to commence Middle East peace talks.
After receiving from the U.S. a list of proposed members of a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation to participate in Mideast peace negotiations, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres declared that the composition of the delegation was unacceptable.
Reversing an earlier statement, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres said that two of seven Palestinians proposed for a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation to meet with the U.S. in preliminary peace talks were acceptable to Israel. Sources close to the Prime Minister said that the two men were Hanna Seniora, editor of Al Fajr newspaper in East Jerusalem, and Faiz Abu Rahmeh, a Gaza Strip lawyer.
Ten of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' 13 members, meeting in Geneva in accordance with an agreement made at the conclusion of failed talks earlier in the month, agreed to adopt minor price cuts on the cartel's current oil prices. The measure will reduce the price of heavy crude 50 cents to $26.00, and medium crude by 20 cents, to $27.20 a barrel, while leaving high-quality light crudes unchanged. The measure did not meet with complete agreement, however, as Libya, Iran, and Algeria publicly opposed such price reductions.
During a White House meeting with National Security Affairs Advisor Robert C. McFarlane, relatives of four of the seven Americans believed being held hostage in Lebanon appealed to the Administration to initiate direct dialogue with their captors. Speaking on behalf of the group, John Jenco, nephew of the Reverend Lawrence Martin Jenco, said, "we welcome the continuation of quiet diplomacy, but feel it can be supplemented with additional actions."