HARRIMAN, N. Y. (Oct. 27)
The United States is willing to talk to the Soviet Union about possible achievement of stability in the Middle East, including Arab-Israeli disputes, W. Averell Harriman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, declared here last night. Citing the Soviet Union’s “new, ascending and dangerous spirals in the Arab-Israeli arms race,” he warned that the Moscow Government is “not likely to abandon its troublesome practices” in the region.
Nevertheless, he declared, the United States must be “on the alert” toward possible enlistment of Soviet cooperation for the achievement of stability in the Middle East. Mr. Harriman was one of the principal speakers at Arden House, his family’s former estate, now owned by Columbia University, at a weekend Assembly convened by Columbia University on the topic, “The United States and the Middle East.” Seventy leading American educators, businessmen, industrialists and government experts attended the assembly.
Preceding Mr. Harriman’s address, the Assembly heard a statement from Dr. Joseph E. Johnson, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and former special envoy of the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission to the Middle East. Dr. Johnson proposed that the Arab states and Israel be persuaded to adopt a policy of “acquiescence” for the solution of their disputes, even if no formal peace treaty between Israel and her Arab neighbors is as yet possible. He also, like Mr. Harriman, foresaw possible Soviet agreement on such a course.
Mr. Harriman told the Assembly: “We should be alert to the possibility of modification of Soviet policies in the Middle East, and exploit any such possibility on talks with the Russians whenever we think they might be brought to realize the advantages of contributing to, rather than detracting from, stability in the area. Such conversations would be in our interest.
MOSCOW’S ACTIONS IN MIDDLE EAST CONSIDERED ‘DISRUPTIVE’ BY U.S.
“There is an awareness,” he said, “that, unlike the United States, which is constantly working for peaceful conditions in the Middle East, the Soviets seek to break down stability and buy short-term propaganda victories.” He then cited, as an example, the spiraling of the Israeli-Arab arms race, declaring Moscow’s actions in that area have “been disruptive.”
Dr. Johnson, in his address, proposing the policy of Arab-Israeli “acquiescence” which, he said, the Soviet Union might be persuaded “at least not to block,” dealt at length with the Arab refugee question. As the PCC’s special envoy to the Middle East, Dr. Johnson had been charged with trying to find a solution to that problem. A plan he had proposed informally for a type of plebiscite among the refugees on their wishes to return to Israel or accepting compensation from Israel had been rejected by both the Arab states and Israel and, consequently, was never formally presented to the United Nations.
In general, he said, the Middle East area was beset by two major problems which he identified as mutual Arab-Israeli fear of attack and the problems of the Arab refugees.