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Rogers Terms Big Four Talks ‘vital Instrument’, Regrets Israel’s Opposition

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Secretary of State William P. Rogers, speaking at a press conference today, criticized Israel for opposing talks at the United Nations by the United States, USSR, France and Britain in pursuit of a Middle Eastern peace settlement. The Secretary said the United States Government “regrets the fact that Israel is so firmly opposed” to the talks now in progress. He said that the United States “has made it perfectly clear that we do not intend, and will not seek, to impose” a solution. But he depicted the talks as a vital instrumentality for easing tensions and finding a solution.

Mr. Rogers stated that no matter what formula the Four Powers eventually adopt, the United States will continue to believe that there must eventually be some direct negotiations between Israel and the Arab states. Although he rejected an imposed peace, the Secretary made clear that if the Big Four did produce a formula, world public opinion would make it difficult for any government in the Middle East to turn it down.

(The Four Power procedure was sharply criticized in Jerusalem yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. Both expressed concern that proposals would emerge that might compromise Israel’s security and both affirmed Israel’s refusal to accept any Big Power proposals that might have this effect.)

(Information received by the Foreign Ministry indicated that no controversial issues have come up thus far in the Big Four meetings at the United Nations in New York. Only matters on which there was general agreement were discussed at the Four Power meeting last week: the need for settlement of the Middle East conflict, the continuation of the Jarring peace-seeking mission and the advisability of some steps to break the present deadlock.)

(The representatives of the Four Powers, resuming their full-scale meetings at the United Nations tomorrow, are expected to begin digging deeper into the outstanding issues.)

SECRETARY DRAWS DISTINCTION BETWEEN IMPOSED PEACE AND ‘RECOMMENDED’ PEACE

Mr. Rogers was questioned during his press conference about the difference between an imposed peace and a “recommended” peace. He said that “there are lots of ways to influence people” without forcing them to comply. He pointed out that the international community exercises influences so powerful that Middle Eastern governments cannot ignore them.

The Secretary said that direct Arab-Israeli negotiations might be necessary “somewhere down the road”. He said, however, that the Big Four talks were important and useful in helping the parties reconcile differences. He voiced regret that Israel was opposed to the Big Four efforts.

Defending the concept of “guarantees” in a Big Four solution, Mr. Rogers said that just because they did not work in the past was no reason that a new version might not operate effectively in the future. The United States, however, has no precise idea on guarantees and is looking to the United Nations for a determination of the form guarantees would take, he said. He voiced assurance that such guarantees would prove “more satisfactory and more lasting than previous ones.”

Once there is agreement that all Middle Eastern governments have a right to live in peace, guarantees are less important, he pointed out. The Secretary said that “the most important factor” was the willingness of the parties to the dispute to declare an intention to live in peace and to recognize each other’s sovereignty.

The statements by Mr. Rogers at his first formal press conference, made clear that the United States is proceeding to place great stock in the Big Four undertaking at the United Nations. His remarks made it apparent that a gap is widening in Israeli-American understanding on the peace issue.

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