WASHINGTON (Oct. 8)
Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey stressed in a major foreign policy speech here today that a solution of the Middle East conflict depended primarily on cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union. He declared, however, that the U.S. would retain its “firm commitment to the security of Israel” and would take no steps in the Middle East that do not conform to this basic interest.”
Mr. Humphrey, speaking at the United Press International editors luncheon, said there was a “clear possibility that one or more Middle Eastern countries will acquire their own nuclear weapons” and warned that if events drift on their present course, “the Middle East will quickly become the most likely area of the world to spark a nuclear conflict.” He emphasized the importance of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and recalled the major stress he placed on his desire for Israel to sign it, expressed last month in his speech before the Zionist Organization of America here.
The address of the Democratic Presidential nominee was entitled “U.S.-Soviet Relations” but the greatest part of it was devoted to the Middle East situation. He emphasized that “we must reduce the risk of confrontation between ourselves and the Russians ” in that region and declared “we can bring permanent peace to that area only if we can convince the Soviets to join our commitment to ending hostilities.” He said the Russians could demonstrate their good faith by joining in arms control agreements covering all the countries of the Middle East.
But, Mr. Humphrey said, as long as Soviet arms shipments to the Arabs continue “we will continue to support Israel with the weapons it needs if there is a further threat to its existence…we must provide Israel with Phantom aircraft” to re-establish the military balance and preserve its security. The Vice President said his concept of peace in the Middle East was linked to United Nations efforts and encouragement of the “forces of moderation in the Arab world.” “As President,” he said, I shall make available my good offices – through the UN and directly – to the search for peace and understanding in the Middle East.” He repeated six basic steps he had previously advanced: The existence of Israel must be accepted by all of its neighbors; boundaries must be transformed into agreed and secure frontiers; Israel must have shipping rights in the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba; the international community must help solve the Arab refugee problem; the arms race must be ended; and resources should be used for human and economic development.
Mr. Humphrey said he saw the American effort as a “combined” undertaking involving the Soviet Union and the other Big Powers. He saw it involving cooperation for development beginning with a program for the desalination of water.