Sen. Humphrey Says He Has New Ideas on Solving Arab Refugee Problem

After visiting the capitals of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan–all of which are the “host” countries where the Arab refugees live–United States Senator Hubert H. Humphrey told a press conference here today that he has “some new ideas” that may help contribute toward a solution of the Arab refugee problem.

One of the principal leaders of the Democratic majority in the American Senate, Senator Humphrey, now on a visit here, has conferred with the topmost leaders of the Israel Government, including Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Foreign Minister Golda Meir, and others, Prior to coming here, he conferred in the capitals of the neighboring Arab states with the leaders of the four refugee “host” countries.

Senator Humphrey did not divulge publicly the nature of his “new ideas,” although he may have informed Mr. Ben-Gurion, with whom he had a lengthy conference yesterday. The Ben-Gurion-Humphrey conference ran far beyond the scheduled time, and the Premier kept the Cabinet waiting for an hour while he finished his talk with the American Senator.

In general, Mr. Humphrey said that, by comparison with 1957, when he last visited the Middle East, he is “more optimistic about peace chances” in the region. As to his thinking on the refugee problem, he stated, he will not disclose his ideas until he has reported them to the State Department upon his return to Washington.

As far as Israel is concerned, Senator Humphrey noted he has found reason to “marvel” over the vast developments here since 1957. He laid particular stress upon Israel’s progress in water development, observing that the time may come when the United States will call upon Israel for technical assistance in the field of water conservation.

The Senator was firm on one point–that, whatever solutions are reached in regard to Arab-Israeli disagreements, must be worked out by the Middle East nations them-selves. It would be “a mistake,” he said, for the United States to attempt to “force” solutions to the area’s problems. However, he reiterated that, “as a result of my talks with leaders of the Arab nations and Israel, I am more optimistic about chances for peace in the Middle East than I was after my trip to the area in 1957.”

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