WASHINGTON (Apr. 8)
The State Department today told a group of 10 Senators who had appealed last week for a strong United States position “in favor of direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Arab states” that it will not make such a proposal at present because it would not be “a realizable objective.”
The reply promptly drew blasts from Republican Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, who had organized the joint bi-partisan appeal, and Republican Senator Kenneth Keating of New York, one of the signatories
In its reply, the State Department said that while it “fully agrees in principle” with the concept of direct negotiations, current increased tensions between Israel and her Arab neighbors cast serious “doubts about the practicality” of such an appeal.
The Department’s letter, signed on Secretary of State Rusk’s behalf by Assistant Secretary Frederick Dutton, said that “common ground is needed for fruitful discussion” and went on to say that it believed non existed at this time. “Considerable progress should be made” before any such conciliation should be attempted, Mr. Dutton’s letter said. He pointed out that among differences still to be settled and which would help improve the Middle Eastern climate would be a solution to the Arab refugee problem.