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U.S. Would Welcome Direct Arab-israel Talks, Secretary Herter Says

Secretary of State Christian A. Herter told a press conference today that the United States would welcome direct Arab-Israel negotiations if the two sides could agree upon it. He referred to an offer made by Israel at the United Nations yesterday to negotiate a complete settlement of the Palestine issue with the Arabs “at any time and place” they choose and with no strings attached.

At the same time Mr. Herter declined to restate the American position of the anti-Israel blockade of the Suez Canal. He said he had expressed himself recently and “very succinctly” at the United Nations on this matter.

Mr. Herter stressed he had no knowledge that would indicate direct Israel-Arab conversations were in the offing. He explained that he referred to Israel’s offer at the United Nations to hold such discussions. He said Israel’s offer at least raised the question anew.

The Secretary of State said he did not know whether talks were possible. He thought the question of Arab-Israel negotiations was one of primary concern to the parties involved. But he made clear the United States would welcome a mutually-acceptable discussion between the Israelis and the Arabs at the United Nations or elsewhere.

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