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Nixon: Parties Must Negotiate Peace, Final Borders Linked to Peace Accord

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President Nixon stressed today, in his second annual foreign policy message to Congress, that United States policy in the Middle East is firmly bound to the principle that a peace settlement must be negotiated by the parties to the conflict, Reaffirming Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ Dec. 9, 1969, proclamation, Nixon said the U.S. “has recognized that any changes in the pre-war borders should be insubstantial,” but he added that “we insist that any agreement to fix final borders must be directly linked in a peace agreement to mutually agreed, practical arrangements that would make them secure.” Nixon emphasized that “No lasting settlement can be achieved in the Middle East without addressing the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.” Nixon warned the Soviet Union that the U.S. will allow no power to establish a dominant position in the Mideast. The “immediate task” be declared is “to help the belligerents construct an agreement that will achieve a workable balance between the security and recognition that Israel seeks and a just resolution which the Arab states seek of the territorial and Palestinian issues,” as “only in such a balance can peace be found,” The section of the President’s message on U.S. relations with the Soviet Union contained no reference to the situation of Jews in that country.

The closest it came to the subject was a passage that said, “The internal order of the USSR, as such, is not an object of our policy, although we do not hide our rejection of many of its features.” The President’s speech lasted 25 minutes and was carried over nationwide radio. Nixon did not, as he has before, single out the Mideast as the “most dangerous” area in the world. He did, however, link the area to Indochina when he stated: “Other nations know that we are ready to protect (our) vital interests (in the Mideast), and one good reason why other nations take us at our word in the Mideast is because the U.S. has kept its word in Southeast Asia.” Nixon charged the USSR with insisting that the major powers “impose” a settlement between Israel and her Arab neighbors, an approach he said the US. has consistently rejected. The Soviets, he continued, “have persistently called for an Israeli commitment to total withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories” and “have also called for a refugee settlement which inadequately reflects the practical, human and security problems involved on both sides.” The U.S. he said, “continues to welcome Soviet suggestions for a settlement, but to be serious they must meet the legitimate concerns of not one but both sides.”

Nixon recommended a reduction of armaments by both sides in the Mideast and a limitation on external arms supplied to them. He stressed, too, the principle of Big Power guarantees of a peace settlement once the latter is achieved. “The lack of mutual confidence between Israel and the Arab countries is so deep,” he observed, “that supplementary major-power guarantees could add an element of assurance. Such guarantees could, in time, with a reduction of the armed strength of both sides, give the agreement permanence.” Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Soviet Union have “vital…important” interests in the Mideast, the President noted, yet “despite the depths of these interests, and perhaps to some extent because of them, the major powers have not established a pattern of relationships with the Middle East which accommodates the interests of all.” He added that “The concern caused by that fact is magnified by the instability and volatility of the region.” The U.S., he said, is pursuing “friendly and constructive relations with all nations in the area,” and all of them must make “painful compromises” in the cause of peace, Referring to the Palestinian people, Nixon stated: “For over two decades they have been the victims of conditions that command sympathy. Peace requires fruitful lives for them and their children and a just settlement of their claims.”

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