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71 Senators Sign Letter to Nixon Urging U.S. Mideast Peace Efforts Be Pursued with Vigor

Seventy-one of the Senate’s 100 members have signed a letter to President Nixon advising him that “peace efforts by the United States should be pursued with all possible vigor, so that the integrity of every country in the (Middle East) area within mutually recognized and secure borders may be realized.” The “increasingly overt intervention of the Soviet Union on behalf of the United Arab Republic” and other “events,” the Senators wrote, “place the situation in a more grave and even broader context than before.” The reference was to June 1, when 71 Senators addressed a letter to Secretary of State William P. Rogers urging the immediate sale of 125 Phantom and Skyhawk jets to Israel, as requested by her. Two other Senators later signed that letter and three others sent their own messages, for a total of 76. Four Democrats who did not sign the first letter endorsed today’s plea to the President. They are Sam J. Ervin Jr. and B. Everett Jordan of North Carolina, Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina and Frank Church of Idaho. Senator Albert Gore, who signed the letter to Mr. Rogers, did not sign the one to Mr. Nixon. Today’s letter, like the one to Mr. Rogers, was bipartisan and was signed by both those considered “hawks” and those considered “doves” on Vietnam. They included Jacob J. Javits and Charles E. Goodelt of New York, Edward M. Kennedy and Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts, John G. Tower and Ralph Yarborough of Texas, Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, George S. McGovern of South Dakota, Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania. Stuart Symington of Missouri, Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut, George Murphy of California. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Hale Boggs of Louisiana, Fred R. Harris of Oklahoma and Walter F. Mondale of Minnesota.

The 71 Senators stated that “strategic interests of the United States and its allies are being challenged” by the Soviets’ Mideast buildup. “Under these circumstances,” they continued, “we believe that your television statements on July 1 were important expressions of United States policy intentions with respect to the Middle East–which we support.” President Nixon said then that the Mideast situation was “more dangerous” than that in Vietnam and that the U.S. will “do what is necessary to maintain Israel’s strength” sufficiently to “deter its neighbors from attacking.” The Senators added: “We believe the Soviet Union could be deterred from bringing about…a confrontation as the result of a clearly expressed policy on the part of the United States to protect and defend its interests in the Middle East and Southern Europe. You may be assured of our support to this end.”

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