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State Dept. Protests to Kuwait on Anti-israel Letters to U.S. Firms

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The Department of State said yesterday it had protested orally to Kuwait against the blacklisting of American firms trading with Israel, but did not consider such Arab pressure an “unfriendly act” since “this action was not directed against the United States as such.”

William B. Macomber, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State, wrote Senator Jacob K. Javits, New York Republican, that Arab blacklisting affecting some United States companies did not appear intended “to disrupt the substantial and mutually beneficial commercial intercourse now carried on between considerable numbers of American and Kuwaiti firms. Rather it appears to have been directed only against certain American and perhaps other firms, whose business associations with Israel were cited in a recent Israel publication which was distributed by various Israel missions abroad.”

Nevertheless, the Department requested Kuwait to stop sending “unwarranted letters” to American business firms. Such letters have inquired into whether firms are “Jewish” and whether they trade with Israel.

The State Department communication resulted from inquiries by Sen. Javits. He cited instances in which American companies were threatened by Kuwait with blacklisting unless they responded by a given date to offensive questionnaires. Mr. Macomber informed Sen. Javits that, allegedly, Kuwait “did not participate in the hostilities against Israel” and therefore was not governed by any armistice accord.

Commenting generally on the blacklisting issue, Mr. Macomber made known it is the Department’s view that “in the absence of a definitive settlement between Israel and the Arab states, including settlement of such vital matters as the plight of thousands of refugees who have had to leave their homes in Palestine, the establishment of permanent boundaries between the Arab states and Israel, and freedom of transit through the Suez Canal, various manifestations of the Arab-Israeli tensions are unfortunately likely to continue.”

Mr. Macomber asserted that the U.S. Government “does not condone the Arab boycott, particularly so far as it adversely affects American firms and citizens. It has sought through all feasible ways and means, within the context of maintaining friendly relations with other members of the free world community, to eliminate such boycott practices.”

Citing the Javits-Morse amendment to the Mutual Security Bill, Sen. Javits said “it will be our job to see to it that international law is fully complied with in this situation, and that this offensive action is discontinued.”

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