Egypt and Israel resumed negotiations today over a small wedge of disputed border land in the Sinai Desert, marking the end of the freeze in their relations that set in with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon last June.
The talks, held in the Egyptian Suez Canal town of Ismailiya, are to focus initially on procedures to resolve the conflict through negotiations or arbitration.
At Israel's insistence, the two sides are also to discuss issues involved in normalizing their relations.
The resumption of the negotiations over Taba, a 700-yard strip of seafront land, was a small diplomatic victory for the United States. It has been urging Cairo to resume the process of normalization and Tel Aviv to discuss Taba.
Israel is known to be troubled by the pace of normalization with Egypt, the only Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state.
Egypt withdrew its ambassador to Tel Aviv last September to protest Israel's indirect involvement in the massacre of civilians in the Palestinian refugee camps outside Beirut.
Egypt contends that the Israelis have violated an agreement made last April, before the final evacuation of the Sinai by Israel, to keep the disputed area as a virtual "no man's land," policed by the American-backed multinational observer force serving in the desert. The hotel has brought a flood of Israeli tourists and activity to the area.