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Lebanese-american Newspaper Urges Direct Talks Between Arab Nations and Israel

A weekly newspaper published here in English and Arabic, the Lebanese Gazette, has issued a “declaration in favor of direct Arab-Israel peace talks.” Using the form of a petition, the newspaper urged readers to sign it and sent it to President Nixon and Secretary of State William P. Rogers or to the newspaper for forwarding to both officials. The petition reads: “The issues which divide Israel and the Arab States can be resolved in the spirit and service of peace, only if the parties involved meet in direct face to face negotiations without prior conditions. The recent history of the Middle East demonstrates the bitter truth that great power efforts to impose a settlement have resolved nothing.”

“The time has passed when a concert of ‘big powers’ can or should impose their will on smaller nations. The only basis from which the search for a genuine and lasting peace can proceed is to ensure direct negotiations which will hopefully lead to a mutually secure and contractual peace settlement, freely and sincerely signed by the parties themselves.” The petition notes that “the most useful role for ‘big power’ involvement is that of encouraging such direct negotiations by every appropriate means.” It urges President Nixon and Mr. Rogers to “remove any doubt about our government’s current position by reaffirming America’s original policy of support of direct negotiations.”

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