WASHINGTON (Dec. 23)
Secretary of State William P. Rogers today vigorously defended America’s latest proposals for a Middle East settlement and indicated displeasure with Israel’s assessment of them as tantamount to “appeasement” of the Arabs.
Mr. Rogers devoted much of his first major news conference in four months to the Middle East crisis. He said he could understand Israel’s concern but added that Americans must conduct their policy in the best interests of the United States. He said the U.S. recommendations, which would have Israel withdraw from almost all of the occupied Arab territories in return for a binding peace commitment from the Arabs, was “fair” and “entirely consistent” with the United Nations Security Council’s resolution of Nov. 22, 1967 which provided the “frame work” for peace. He rejected the notion that the U.S. was seeking to impose a settlement in the region and said that final negotiations would be left to the Israelis and Arabs.
In reply to a question, Mr. Rogers said “there is no linkage” between Israel’s dispute with the U.S. over withdrawal from the occupied territories and Israel’s pending request for more arms and economic aid from the U.S. He said Israel’s request was being given careful consideration “with the knowledge that the U.S. has an obligation to support the sovereignty of Israel and its future security.” Asked if the U.S. might limit arms shipments to Israel under existing contracts–apparently Phantom jets—in view of Israel’s attitude toward Washington’s latest proposals, Mr. Rogers said: “we have had no discussion on that at all.”
Referring to Israeli charges of “appeasement”, he said that was an “unfortunate word” because it suggested that the Arabs were “enemies of the U.S. and we are appeasing them ” He observed that the U.S. has had friendly relations with the Arabs for many years.”
WON’T EXPLAIN FAILURE TO BRIEF EBAN ON JORDANIAN PROPOSALS
Asked why he had failed to disclose America’s latest proposals with regard to the Israel-Jordanian aspects of the Middle East dispute during his two-and-a-half hour talk with Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban here a week ago, Mr. Rogers replied that he didn’t want to enter into a discussion of that. He indicated that all parties are being kept advised of U.S. thinking.
He said he left open the details of the proposed Jerusalem settlement so that Jordan and Israel could make arrangements on that city’s future status. Mr. Rogers insisted that any Mideast solution must take into account the Arab refugees. He said, however, that the U.S. had no intention of dealing directly or indirectly with Arab guerrilla groups.
Mr. Rogers enumerated what he described as foreign policy achievements by the Nixon Administration during the past year. He said he regretted that the Middle East was the “single exception.”