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Communique of the Multilateral Steering Group

(July 13, 1994)

Following the meeting of this group in Tokyo, another meeting was held in Tabarka, Tunisia, to review progress made since its last meeting. All parties noted significant accomplishments. Three additional countries were added to the multilaterals. Reports were delivered by various working groups. The Israeli delegation was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Beilin. While in Tunisia, he met with that country's foreign minister and other officials.

The Multilateral Steering Group met July 12-13 in Tabarka, Tunisia. The Steering Group welcomed the visible changes we are beginning to see in the region. In this connection, the Steering Group favorably noted the progress achieved in the bilateral talks: including the conclusion of the Israel-Palestinian Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area on May 4 implementing the September 13 Declaration of Principles, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and Jericho, and the Jordanian-Israeli agreement to intensify their bilateral negotiations in the region.

In their reports to the Steering Group, gavel-holders noted significant accomplishments in each working group since the Tokyo Steering Group meeting, and also reported candidly on problems and challenges that need to be addressed further. All parties stressed the need for further work on the issue of funding, taking into account the need not to raise unrealistic expectations or to pursue proposals which cannot be financed. All parties confirmed the importance of the Steering Group in providing overall coordination to the multilateral peace process.

Pursuant to the decision of the Steering Group in Tokyo, the co-sponsors reported on their consultations with states seeking to participate in the multilaterals and sought clarification of their possible contribution to the multilaterals. It was agreed to invite Hungary, the Republic of Korea and Romania to join the multilaterals. The co-sponsors will consult with those countries concerning the working groups in which they will participate. The co-sponsors will also consult with other prospective new members as stipulated in Tokyo. Following an extended discussion on this subject, it was agreed that the co-sponsors will circulate, at the next Steering Group meeting, a draft of criteria for new members. The Steering Group again called on Syria and Lebanon to join the multilaterals. The co-sponsors undertook to inform the Syrians and Lebanese about developments in the multilaterals.

A Swiss proposal to establish a working group on human rights was raised. Several parties also expressed interest in a Jerusalem working group. Consensus was not achieved on establishing either working group.

Following up on the Tokyo Steering Group meeting and the Montebello intersessional, the Steering Group also had an extensive discussion on the Guidelines for Regional Development and the paper on the future of the region.

At the Montebello meeting, the Steering Group reached consensus to "develop a framework of key elements for regional cooperation, a vision which will serve as a guide for specific future activities." The Steering Group sees the guidelines as the approved vehicle for the effort, noting that the guidelines will be a "living" political statement of objectives for the multilateral process, not a legally binding document.

A work plan for the guidelines was agreed:

- The comments made during the discussion would be incorporated in a new draft to be circulated by the co-sponsors following the meeting; and

- All Steering Group members would be asked to submit further comments to be combined in a draft for consideration at an intersessional meeting in November in anticipation of approval at the next Steering Group plenary.

The Steering Group also approved the following work plan to produce a paper on the future of the region, which represents a mix of elements proposed by different members of the group:

- The co-sponsors would be responsible for overall management and coordination of the paper.

- The co-sponsors would draft an introductory chapter and a chapter on funding, which would be circulated widely for comment.

- The gavel-holders would be responsible for producing chapters on their subjects. Before their chapters, the gavel-holders should solicit input from the regional parties. Each gavel-holder would decide the most appropriate way to do so.

The following schedule was established:

- October 1: Regional parties in the working groups provide input and ideas to the gavel-holders.

- November 1: Gavel-holders produce drafts for circulation to working group members.

- January 2: Working group members provide comments on the drafts to the gavel-holders.

- February 2: Possible intersessional on the paper (if so decided at next Steering Group meeting).

Some Steering Group members noted the need for clarity in new initiatives, in order to permit better conceptual understanding and full consideration by all parties. In this regard, it was suggested that all papers be circulated at least two weeks prior to the meeting where they will be considered. Steering Group members also noted the need for flexibility and informality in dealing with sensitive problems.

It was agreed that a Steering Group intersessional will be held in November to consider the guidelines for regional development and issues relating to the structure of the multilaterals, including a fixed venue for the Steering Group, new working groups and the clustering of future meetings.

The Steering Group approved the following venues for the next round of working groups. The co-sponsors will consult with parties regarding timing:

- Arms Control and Regional Security - Tunisia - Environment - Bahrain 24-25.10.94 - Refugees - Turkey

- Regional Economic Development - Germany - Water - Greece

- Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee - France (World Bank Office) - Steering Group - to be determined.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs