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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       July 23, 1996 V4, #133
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Germans Want Their Say in Peace Talks

By Kyle King (VOA-Bonn)

German officials say they plan to take a more active diplomatic role in the Middle East following their successful efforts to broker an exchange Sunday between Israel and the pro-Iranian Hizbullah. The deal resulted in the return of the remains of two Israeli soldiers in exchange for the remains of 123 Hizbullah terrorists and the release of 45 prisoners held by the Israeli backed south Lebanon army militia.

Bernd Schmidbauer, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's intelligence coordinator, says Germany's contacts in the Middle East give it an ideal basis for more diplomatic efforts in the region.

Schmidbauer, who played a key role in organizing Sunday's exchange of remains and prisoners, says his government enjoys the trust of all the major players in the Middle East, including Iran.

Schmidbauer says Germany plans to try to use its good relations in the region to resolve humanitarian issues and play a larger role in the Middle East peace process.

The United States, which has sought to isolate Iran because of its support for terrorists, has often been critical of Germany's policy of maintaining ties with Iran.

Speaking to reporters in Bonn, Schmidbauer said he expected some critics to find fault with the fact that negotiations for the swap took place with Hizbullah, Iran, Syria and Lebanon. But he said Germany has always believed that maintaining a dialogue with Iran was the right thing to do.

Israeli analysts say an increasing German role in Middle East politics would be welcome, but the main mediation role, they say, will continue to belong to the United States.

Schmidbauer, whose intelligence work and savvy image has frequently invited media comparisons here in Germany with the fictitious British secret agent James Bond, says he now plans to focus on the case of Ron Arad, an Israeli air force navigator whose plane was shot down over south Lebanon in 1986.

Some reports from Beirut say Lebanese guerrillas have offered to seek information about the Israeli airman as part of efforts to help Germany negotiate a comprehensive prisoner exchange.

Ross is in Middle East This Week

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

U S Middle East peace envoy Dennis Ross is in the region this week to try to get the peace process back on track. He is visiting the Syrian, Jordanian and Israeli capitals. The trip coincides with another peace mission, this one by French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette.

The aim of the talks this week is to see about clearing the way for resuming peace talks, especially between Syria and Israel. Negotiations have been stalled for months. Now Syria is reluctant to deal with the new Israeli prime minister who has so far rejected the idea of giving up land for peace. Syria says there will be no peace until Israel returns all of the Golan Heights, which it seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Egyptian officials say they are not sure if Ross is bringing any new proposals with him on this trip.

The visit coincides with a French mission to the region by Foreign Minister Herve de Charette. He is consulting with leaders in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Egypt as well as the Palestinian autonomous areas.

De Charette carried out an intensive shuttle diplomacy last April to help broker an end to the fighting between Israel and Hizbullah terrorists in southern Lebanon. France is a member of the multi-national monitoring team put in place to prevent any violations of the cease-fire there.

Mubarak Stresses Need for Solidarity

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak used the anniversary of Egypt's 1952 revolution to stress once again the need for Arab solidarity and for renewal of the peace process. The Egyptian leader also urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resume negotiations based on the principle of land for peace.

Mubarak used his half-hour speech to repeat his call for a speedy resumption of the peace process based on the principle of land for peace. He added that he also warned the new Israeli prime minister during their meeting last week of the dangers of not pushing negotiations forward.

Mubarak said an important result of the talks was that Netanyahu understands the importance of working with the Arabs as equal partners -- of working for their interests as well as for Israel's needs.

Mubarak also stressed the need for reconciliation within the Arab community. And he called for greater Arab solidarity in the face of all the complexities of the Middle East peace process. He echoed the declaration of last month's Arab summit when he stressed that Arab partners in the process do not want to return to the days of conflict and hostility.

On the thorny issue of Jerusalem, Mubarak repeated Arab support for the right of Palestinians to decide their own fate and for the importance of resolving the status of Jerusalem in any final peace agreement.

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