Appointment of Economic Mission for Middle East Averts Showdown at Lausanne Tales
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Appointment of Economic Mission for Middle East Averts Showdown at Lausanne Tales

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Paul A. Porter, American representative to the United Nations Conciliation Commission, said today that the Commission’s appointment of an economic survey group for the Middle East is perhaps the most important step yet taken toward a solution of the Middle East’s problems.

Mr. Porter, who is leaving for Washington today, said setting up of the group, under Gordon R. Clapp, chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, marks a reversal of the priority which has hitherto been maintained by the State Department and President Truman. He said the change is along the lines demanded for many weeks by both Israel and Arab delegations.

Hitherto the attitude in Washington has been to insist that political settlement be negotiated first at Lausanne before the question of economic development and financing was taken up in Washington and Lake Success, Mr. Porter said. “But in view of the extreme position adopted by both sides at Lausanne, it became clear to me that a settlement negotiated on a purely political basis is not possible at present,” he added. “We were faced, therefore, with a demand from certain quarters for a showdown at Lausanne. The appointment of the economic survey group has averted that situation and has provided one more opportunity for a negotiated peace.”

Mr. Porter would not identify the quarters he said were seeking a “showdown” which would have involved the Commission or the economic survey group in direct recommendations to the United Nations General Assembly which, in turn, would have imposed its solution on both parties — a prospect particularly displeasing to Israel.

The economic survey group will start work at once, Mr. Porter said, and he will remain with Mr. Clapp to assist and advise him during the initial phase. With tried personnel, the economic survey group will be an almost autonomous body subordinated to the Commission only in name, he added.


Mr. Porter doubted whether there was sufficient time left for the economic survey group to report to this year’s session of the U.N. Assembly although it would make urgent recommendations for handling of the refugees settlement question in time for the October meeting of the Conciliation Commission. He said there was no need to produce new projects for the Middle East. One of the great advantages of developments in the Middle East is that comparatively small capital expenditures would go a long way, Mr. Porter added, although he did not name any figure. Experts here estimated about $160,000,000 for initial expenditures.

The problem, Mr. Porter commented, is not so much finance as good honest administration. He said he had some ideas on the subject based on his experience as head of the United States mission in Greece and that he proposed to put those ideas before the economic survey group at the proper time. Mr. Porter expressed the hope that the group’s recommendations will be carried out through negotiation and with the consent of all parties which he said he thought will be possible if they cooperate willingly with the work of the group.

The first meeting of the group is expected to be held in Geneva within the next two weeks. It will then dispatch teams to Arab Palestine, Israel, Transjordan, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon.

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