Christopher resumes US Mid-East role

THERE is something depressingly familiar about yet another US secretary of state boarding his government jet at the start of yet another trip round the Near East to advance some peace plan or another. And Warren Christopher is on familiar ground. He had worked with Jimmy Carter during the Camp David process. Today he returns to the area which 15 years later is still discussing the same matters: the Palestinian issue; and the achievement of peace between Israel and neighbouring Arab states.

Mr Christopher held out little hope for progress during his current trip. He arrives today in Egypt and goes on to Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. He played down expectations of any breakthrough in the peace process. He did not even expect to get agreement on when those talks might resume. On the eve of his departure he emphasised that his main aim was familiarisation at first hand of the personalities and issues.

'I'm not as familiar as I'd like to be with the region or its principal personalities. So I don't want to establish a particular target for the trip,' he said. 'I think I'll be quite satisfied if I have an opportunity to listen to what they have to say, to what is on their minds and try to get some sense . . . as to where the negotiations stand,' he added.

'I hope that subsquently the peace process can be restarted with a rescheduling of the bilateral and multilateral negotiations, but I would not expect that to happen during the course of my trip,' Mr Christopher said.

Yet the Middle East peace talks were the one foreign policy success which Mr Christopher was meant to have inherited from the Bush-Baker team. They had laid the ground by getting the Arab parties to sit round the table with the Israelis in Madrid 16 months ago. They had subsquently contrived to lever out the intransigent Mr Shamir, and helped Mr Rabin become prime minister of Israel. Mr Rabin however, whose change of tone towards the Syrians has elicited a positive response from Damascus, then caused the current impasse because of his expulsion of 400 Palestinian Islamic militants. That impasse over the deportations remains. The Israelis will continue to try to bend Mr Christopher's ear to suggest that the problem is being exaggerated, that the Arab states - particularly Syria - are keen to get down to business, that when the invitations are delivered for the resumption of talks, the Arab states will go. The Arab states, however, are reluctant to make any move before there is a more satisfactory resolution of the deportation issue.

Simply, they wish to see the US show it can exert influence over Israel to implement UN resolution 799 on taking back the deported Palestinians. Otherwise they argue, how can they expect the US to coax, cajole or pressurise Israel to implement UN security council resolution 242, which is the basis for the peace talks?

King Hussein of Jordan has ended speculation by confirming that he will be succeeded by his brother, Crown Prince Hassan, 12 years his junior. Prince Hassan was appointed heir apparent, rather than any of the monarch's sons, some 25 years ago. In a BBC interview, the King said he would not renege on this commitment.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Purchaser

£12000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: his is a unique opportunity to ...

Recruitment Genius: Accountant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Summarises financial status by ...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Recruitment Genius: Salesforce Developer

£50000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued business growt...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss