COPENHAGEN (Jun. 4)
Foreign Minister Poul Hartling, of Denmark, declared today that hopes for peace in the Middle East depended upon the desire of the super-powers–United States and Soviet Russia–to avoid a confrontation in that region. Mr. Hartling said that Denmark alone, or with the other Scandinavian countries, would gladly take an initiative in seeking Arab-Israeli peace, but he doubted that small nations could succeed where the Big Powers so far have failed, “In light of the present reality, it is very difficult to envisage what results we could attain which the Four Powers or the Two Powers could not reach.” Mr. Hartling told JTA Vice President and Editor Victor M. Bienstock in an interview. The Danish diplomat said he thought the best chances for a settlement lay in implementation of the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967 which Denmark, then a member of the Council, played a part in drafting.
Mr. Hartling said recent visits to Israel and Egypt left him with the impression that both peoples sincerely wanted peace but there has been too much mistrust and “too little flexibility” on both sides. He said he welcomed a recent statement by Premier Golda Meir reaffirming Israel’s acceptance of Resolution 242 and Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s remarks expressing Israel’s readiness to leave the occupied territories in return for peace. Asked if he believed the Soviet Union was sincerely seeking peace in the area in light of its military involvement there, Mr. Hartling said, “We must hope that the Big Powers will not seek a confrontation and will confine or limit the escalation of Arab-Israeli fighting.” He said there were signs at the SALT talks in Vienna and elsewhere that the United States and the Soviet Union were seeking to avoid confrontation.
“Now and then,” Mr. Hartling observed, “there are signs that the two powers share a common interest in keeping peace within the Middle East.” But at the present moment, peace prospects are at a standstill with both sides “in the trenches.” Mr. Hartling described Danish relations with Israel as “excellent.” Asked how it happened that Denmark took the virtually unprecedented action of opening its doors to Polish Jewish refugees without conditions or restrictions, he replied that it was just an expression of his country’s tradition of hospitality and opposition to oppression. He noted that although Denmark was confronted with severe economic problems, there has been no criticism of the government’s policy or the use of public funds to aid the refugees. More than 1600 Polish Jews have found refuge in Denmark in recent years. They receive government assistance and are free to establish permanent residence and take employment.