Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 29, 1985, Page 9
Facts For Your Files: A Chronology of U.S.-Middle East Relations
A statement released at the White House following a 30-minute meeting between President Reagan and Sudanese President Jaafar Nimeri said the Administration was releasing $67 million in FY 1984 economic aid to Sudan that had been frozen last December. The statement said the Sudanese government "is taking the steps that are required to bring its economy under control," citing President Nimeri's recent devaluation of Sudan's currency, the removal of food subsidies, and the "limitation on the budget deficit." These measures, which Mr. Nimeri implemented just prior to his departure for the U.S. on March 27, triggered riots in Omdurman March 26.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a foreign aid authorization bill for FY 1986 containing $3 billion in economic and military assistance to Israel. An additional $1.5 billion in economic aid was approved for Israel, against the Administration's wishes, as a two-year supplemental that begins in the current fiscal year. Among the amendments attached to the FY 86 aid bill is one prohibiting the sale of advanced U.S. weaponry to Jordan until it enters direct peace negotiations with Israel, and another requiring Presidential certification that Saudi Arabia has met certain conditions before it takes delivery of previously-purchased AWACS planes.
The Reagan Administration charged Israel with violating the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention by transferring approximately 1,200 prisoners from its Ansar prison in southern Lebanon to a prison in Israel. The State Department issued a statement saying: "We have consistently taken the position that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to areas of Lebanon under Israeli occupation. According to the convention, protected persons are to be detained only within the occupied territory and their transfer to the territory of the occupying power is prohibited, regardless of motive. It appears that Israel's actions are inconsistent with certain provisions of the Geneva Convention." Most of the 1,200 prisoners moved by Israel April 2 were Muslim Shiites.
President Jaafar Nimeri of Sudan was overthrown in a bloodless military coup led by Sudan's Defense Minister, General Abdel Rahman Mohammad Hassan Suwar el-Dahab. The takeover occurred less than a day after President Nimeri left the U.S. on his return to Sudan, via Egypt, where he learned of the coup. Rioting erupted in Sudan March 26, and a general strike by professional workers and other opponents of the government began April 3, paralyzing the capital of Khartoum.
A State Department spokesman said that in a meeting April 7 with David Shinn, the U.S. charge d'affaires in Khartoum, the new Sudanese leader, General Suwar el-Dahab, "expressed interest in the maintenance of continued good relations with the United States and appreciation for the assistance the United States has provided the Sudan in recent years." The spokesman, Thomas Krajeski, said that Mr. Shinn "welcomed the general's statement of interest in the maintenance of good relations and assured him that the United States government shares fully the desire for strong bilateral ties."
The State Department announced that $40 million will be released to Sudan for "a petroleum project to facilitate oil importation." Spokesman Ed Djerejian said the money was "not new assistance that was approved after the coup," but rather was part of the $67 million released to Sudan during the recent visit to Washington of ousted Sudanese President Jaafar Nimeri.
Spain's Interior Minister Jose Barrionuevo said the group calling itself Islamic Jihad may have planted the bomb that exploded April 12 in a restaurant near Madrid that regularly serves U.S. servicemen. Eighteen Spaniards were killed in the explosion and 15 Americans were injured, one of them seriously. According to Mr. Barrionuevo, "police believe that the most credible claim (of the several groups that took responsibility) was the one made in Beirut by the Shiite Muslim group Islamic Jihad."
Algerian President Chadli Bendjedid was received at the White House by President Reagan in what was the first visit ever to Washington by an Algerian head of state. At a welcoming ceremony, President Reagan said U.S.-Algerian relations were moving in a "positive direction," while President Bendjedid said he hopes "dynamic cooperation" can be built between the two countries.
Speaking before members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Secretary of State George Shultz said that lasting peace for Israel will require a just settlement of the Palestinian problem. He continued: "How ironic and tragic it is, therefore, that those who claim to act on behalf of the Palestinians have continued to block negotiations ... Now is the time for the Arabs to let negotiations proceed. Now is the time for the Arabs to let King Hussein come forward. There is no alternative to direct negotiation; the longer this truth is evaded, the longer the Palestinian people are the victim. Those who chased illusions of 'armed struggle,' those who engaged in terrorism, those who thought that Soviet support would intimidate the United States and Israel, have only brought death to innocents and prolonged the suffering of the Palestinian people. Such methods have achieved nothing constructive, and never will."
The U.S. and Israel signed an agreement that is intended to eliminate all tariffs on trade between the two countries within 10 years. It is the first agreement of its kind ever to be signed by the U.S. The Reagan Administration soon will be submitting the agreement to Congress for approval.