Sisco: Mideast ‘substantially De-fused’

Joseph J. Sisco, the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said here today that the Middle East has been “substantially de-fused” as a result of three factors–the “positive impact” of Big Power summitry, the cease-fire that has lasted more than two years and the US policy of maintaining the arms balance in the area.

Sisco and two other spokesmen for the Nixon administration participated in a series of briefings held here for the Chicago Board of Rabbis. The others were Donald Rumsfeld, Counselor to the President, and Lawrence Silberman, Undersecretary of Labor.

In reply to a question, Sisco described as “incorrect” a report that appeared in the Oct. 11 JTA Daily News Bulletin of a taped television interview with him broadcast in Israel the evening of Oct. 9. Sisco said that a study of the transcript of the interview did not support the lead carried in the JTA story and claimed that Israeli newspapers that monitored the interview did not come to the same conclusions as the JTA.

The JTA dispatch from Jerusalem reported that Sisco had offered a vigorous defense of the controversial Rogers Plan in which he stressed three basic points of the plan that he said tended to be forgotten. The JTA story also noted that Sisco’s remarks on the Rogers Plan were in response to questions by the interviewer.

SOVIET JEWRY HIGH ON NIXON’S AGENDA

Sisco told the Chicago rabbis that US policy in the Middle East is to get a negotiating process started so that there can be a “peaceful resolution.” He also reiterated that US policy is not to impose a peace settlement but to serve a useful role to help both parties negotiate on boundaries and other items.

Referring to the situation of Soviet Jews, Sisco said the State Department shares the “abhorrence” of all Americans over the education head tax levied by Soviet authorities on persons who want to emigrate. He said the problem was high on the President’s agenda and that all levels of government will be used to deal with it. He said he favored the approach of “quiet diplomacy,” adding that the events of recent weeks tend to show that it is working. Sisco also said that a resolution of this problem could play a useful role in the continued improvement in relations between the US and USSR.

Silberman discussed the issue of quotas in education and employment and accused the Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. George McGovern, of advocating quotas. He quoted McGovern as saying on Oct. 4 that “goals and time tables are a useful tool to achieve parity,” According to Silberman, parity was a standard of proportional representation which comes back to quotas.” Rumsfeld discussed economic matters at the briefing.

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