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Nehru Sees Little Chance for Mid-east Settlement in Near Future

Indian Prime Minister Nehru, explaining why India refuses to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel told a press conference today that “we sympathize with many of the claims of the Arabs, their territory in regard to refugees, and in regard to other matters.”

Mr. Nehru spoke in response to a question by a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent who asked if he believed “the establishment by India of normal diplomatic relations with Israel would contribute towards the status of India as an objective force working towards Middle Eastern peace.”

The Prime Minister said that while India recognized Israel’s existence it did not exchange diplomatic missions with Israel-because “we felt that we would be able to help in this matter more by not going a step further and exchanging diplomatic missions.”

Explaining this attitude, Mr. Nehru said “you know that our relations and contacts with the Arab nations are very considerable and in this matter there is considerable passion, and we thought that was the better course. Of course, we sympathize with many of the claims of the Arabs, their territory, in regard to refugees and in regard to other matters.”

He said that “we felt that the only way to settle this matter is for those people to come together and settle it then. Now, after recent occurrences it is infinitely more difficult for the present, at least…I’m not talking about the future.”

In reply to a reporter’s question about how India might contribute toward an Arab-Israel peace, Mr. Nehru said this became “very much more difficult to answer after recent occurrences, that is-after the Israelite invasion of Egypt, that I honestly do not know what one can do at the present.” He expressed hope that something might be done in the future “but just at the present moment, the question hardly arises or can hardly be considered in a normal way.”

SUEZ PASSAGE A ‘QUESTION OF INTERPRETATION’

Asked if he would agree to a Suez settlement allowing Egypt to continue barring of Israel shipping, Mr. Nehru said it was a question of interpretation of the 1888 Suez Convention. He said “I should imagine that some court. should be asked to interpret it, and whatever interpretation they give should be accepted. That is one way of it, so far as the past is concerned So far as the future is concerned, we can sit down and have a new convention.”

Mr. Nehru also made known in the conference that India had no special plan for cooperation with the United States in solving the Arab-Israel issue. He said India functioned through the United Nations and other channels but had “no particular magic plan” for a solution.

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