WASHINGTON (Aug. 31)
President Richard M. Nixon discouraged speculation today as to whether American troops would participate in a Middle East peace-keeping force. In a television interview on the CBS Morning News program taped several days ago at the San Clemente summer White House, Mr. Nixon said “I do not believe that hypotheses of that type, well intentioned as they are, are going to be particularly helpful” to the current peace talks under United Nations special envoy Gunnar V. Jarring. The President said, “For people from the outside, whoever they may be, in government or out of government, to make this or that suggestion as to where we move without knowing all the facts–I don’t think it would be particularly helpful so that I will not comment on it.” Pres. Nixon will meet tomorrow at San Clemente with his top policy advisors for a full scale review of the Middle East situation.
Mr. Nixon, by his remarks today, seemed to let the air out of what had appeared to be a trial balloon lofted last week from his own San Clemente base. Reports that the U.S. and Soviet Union might establish a joint force to police the implementation of whatever peace settlement might emerge from current negotiation efforts were contained in the transcript of a press briefing released by the summer White House on Aug. 26. The briefing was attended by President Nixon and his top aides. A UN spokesman said Secretary General U Thant had read the report but declined to comment further. According to the contents of the transcript, the suggested two-power force would resemble the United Nations Emergency Force which maintained peace prior to June, 1967. Mr. Nixon said in the interview broadcast today that he was “neither optimistic nor expectant” about a settlement but the fact that both sides agrees to a cease-fire brought “some hope.”
Before the cease-fire, Mr. Nixon remarked, the Mideast situation had “no hope.” He warned against over optimism, observing that differences and passions going back over thousands of years “are not settled quickly.” However, he added. “As far as we are concerned, we believe we have made some progress because after all there is a cease-fire. People aren’t being killed now. And as long as that goes on, it looks better than it was.” Observers here expressed surprise that the President referred to the contemplated joint U.S.-Soviet peace-keeping force as if the proposal for it had not originated within his own White House family. There was speculation that the U.S. might have been rebufied on the idea by the Soviet Union, Israel and Egypt. There was no public reaction from Moscow or from either Middle East capital. Israel’s Ambassador to Washington. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, said in Tel Aviv Friday that Israel might welcome an American presence in the area provided it did not have to pay an exorbitant political price.