Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat flew to Morocco today for continued diplomatic efforts to salvage moribund talks with Jordan after the PLO executive committee ended an inconclusive meeting here on Jordanian relations.
Morocco's King Hassan II asked Arafat to come urgently to take part in American-backed mediation efforts aimed at reviving Middle East peace negotiations, Palestinian sources said.
The Moroccan initiative overshadowed the meeting of the 14-member executive committee. It was the group's first meeting since Jordan's King Hussein on April 10 broke off negotiations with Arafat aimed at allowing the king to enter U.S.-sponsored talks on a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue.
The committee issued a bland communique after 10 hours of talks saying only that it had "studied details" of Arafat's discussions with Hussein and had reviewed the "latest developments" involving Jordan and other Arab governments. The communique said that the executive committee would meet again at the end of the first week of May.
Committee members said privately that the week-long delay in convening the meeting and its inconclusive result reflected a desire to give time to the new diplomatic efforts to achieve resumption of PLO-Jordanian talks. They denied suggestions that the delays were caused by radical guerrilla factions' opposition to Arafat and his efforts to find a diplomatic solution.
Palestinian sources said that the United States was involved in the Moroccan initiative in hopes of breathing new life into President Reagan's seven-month-old proposal for creation of a self-governed Palestinian entity, in association with Jordan, on land now occupied by Israel.
The sources noted that Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohammed Boucetta flew to Jordan twice last week to confer with Hussein on ways to resume talks with the PLO. Hussein turned down an invitation to visit Morocco, apparently because he was not satisfied with Boucetta's suggested compromise formulations, the sources said. Details of the proposed compromise were not available.
Palestinian sources said that Arafat's recent visits to four Eastern European Communist countries were designed to use up time in hope that the Moroccan mediation effort would succeed.
Significantly, the executive committee members said nothing officially to rebut the Jordanian communique nearly two weeks ago that basically blamed the PLO for Hussein's decision to break off talks.
Palestinian sources said that despite Jordan's official position, Hussein had sent Reagan a message highly critical of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The message was said to hold the United States responsible for the breakdown in talks and effectively to exonerate the PLO.
In a question-and-answer session with reporters in Washington, Reagan reaffirmed that Hussein has told him that he did not view the Middle East peace process as nearly collapsed.
Reuter added the following:
In London, the Foreign Office announced that Deputy Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd met for 45 minutes with PLO political department chief Farouk Kaddoumi in the highest level bilateral contact ever between Britain and the PLO.
London has refused to have Cabinet-level contacts with the PLO until it recognizes Israel's right to exist. Foreign Secretary Francis Pym asserted that the meeting did not represent a change in Britain's attitude to the PLO.