WASHINGTON (Dec. 19)
The State Department denied today that Middle East peace negotiations have been delayed and side-tracked because of America’s failure to reach a settlement in Vietnam. “There is no foundation” for such reports. Department spokesman Charles Bray declared at today’s press briefing. He said the “International climate, taken all together” continues to seem “propitious to undertake diplomatic activity which might lead to an interim agreement or more” in the Middle East.
The State Department also released today the text of Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ press conference in Brussels Dec. 8 at which he asserted that the U.S. is “going to be active diplomatically to see if there is some way to get negotiations started, of an indirect nature at first, with the idea of making some progress.”
According to the transcript, Rogers said the U.S. believes a Middle East agreement must be reached within the framework of the Security Council’s Resolution 242. Rogers said he considered a final settlement unlikely in the near future because of the complexities involved. However, he added at his press conference, “We think there should be an attempt made to figure out a way to make some progress with a full understanding that progress would be merely interim progress; that what everyone is seeking is a final solution based on 242.”
Rogers added that “What we have in mind is that negotiations should start.” He said that rather than initiating negotiations, he believed that the U.S. role should be to “stimulate interest and discussion.” Rogers’ Brussels press conference was held four days before he met with Israel’s Deputy Premier Yigal Allon in Washington. Allon told newsmen after their meeting that there was not likely to be a new American peace initiative in the Middle East in the near future because Rogers “accepts the view that the situation (in the Middle East) is so delicate that no premature steps should be taken.”