WASHINGTON (Oct. 28)
Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco declared today that “We don’t really feel that the way to peace is through a shouting match at the General Assembly.” Interviewed on the CBS-TV affiliate here, WTOP-TV, the State Department official said of the Middle East debate now under way at the United Nations: “We don’t feel that the way to peace is through propaganda exchanges in the General Assembly…One views these debates with understandable reservation.” Such confrontations, he said, “contribute to making positions more rigid rather than developing the kind of flexibility that is required.” Echoing the position of Israel in the matter, Mr. Sisco added that “Our hope is that the Assembly will act in such a way that it will not undermine the element of common understanding that has developed between the parties, and by this I mean there is an acceptance by all concerned of the Security Council resolution of Nov. 22, 1967.” Israel has warned against “eroding” or “tampering” with Resolution 242.
“What is important,” Mr. Sisco continued, “is that each member of the General Assembly should ask himself this question: ‘What kind of conditions after the conclusion of this debate will be most conducive to quiet, ongoing efforts to get the talks started again under Ambassador (Gunnar V.) Jarring’s auspices?’” Prior to today’s remarks by the Assistant Secretary, U.S. spokesmen had said only that while the United States favored “quiet diplomacy,” it had “no objection” to an Assembly debate on the Mideast. “Our purpose,” Mr. Sisco reiterated, “is to get the cease-fire extended (and) do whatever we can to create the conditions of confidence which would permit the early resumption of the talks.” Both President Nixon and Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban have in recent days emphasized that mutual confidence is the key to peace. Mr. Sisco said that the longer the cease-fire, “the better it would be.”
On another aspect of the situation, Mr. Sisco observed that “the new leadership in Cairo is in the process of establishing itself” and that “a little time is required” for it to “settle down.” Asked about reports that the U.S. was conferring with guerrilla leader Yassir Arafat about a Palestinian state on the West Bank, Mr. Sisco said he had “no knowledge” of such reports. He said the Soviet Union’s position of standstill violations in the Suez Canal zone “remains unchanged,” explaining that the Russians “continue to deny any responsibility” for the Egyptian violations or for “rectification” of them. He added that the U.S. position–that the USSR does have such responsibility–also “remains unchanged.” Asked if there was a new American peace initiative in the works, the Assistant Secretary said “we have some ideas” about efforts at “quiet diplomacy.” Discussion of the American-backed plan for international supervision of the Mideast truce zone would have to follow the Jarring negotiations, he said.