WASHINGTON (Aug. 23)
A high State Department official indicated today that the United States would like to see the Arab refugee problem settled before encouraging any peace talks between the Arabs and Israel. Harlan Cleveland, Assistant Secretary of State for International Affairs, said today in a letter to Rep. Leonard Farbstein, New York Democrat, that the State Department favors Arab-Israel peace but “our reservation about the present Israeli initiative relates to its timing–and hence to its utility.”
Mr. Cleveland said the State Department considers the Arab refugee problem of primary importance because of the continuing human suffering, inherent tension, and financial burden. Since Dr. Joseph Johnson, special UN emissary to the Middle East, is approaching a “crucial phase” in United Nations negotiations to solve the Arab Refugee deadlock, it “seems to us that the maximum efforts of the United States, as well as of the countries in the area, should be devoted to seeing these important negotiations through to a successful conclusion.” Rep. Farbstein is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Assistant Secretary of State Frederick G. Dutton said today that there was little the State Department could do to prevent Arab countries from denying entry to American citizens who visit Israel first. Mr. Dutton was replying to a complaint by New York Republican Senator Jacob Javits on behalf of two New Yorkers who were denied entry to Iraq and Syria, during their tour of the Middle East.