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Yost Believes All Parties in Mideast Conflict Will Agree to Negotiate

Charles W. Yost, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, said he believed all parties in the Mideast conflict would agree to negotiations this year, but doubted that “any action by the U.S. can be decisive.” In an interview with Random House on the occasion of the publication of his book “The Conduct and Misconduct of Foreign Affairs,” Yost said, “the Israelis have made it clear they are entirely ready for negotiation, and the Egyptians and the Jordanians want to talk because they want a political settlement.”

Regarding U.S. influence, Yost said the U.S. has “unintentionally misled people on both sides in the Middle East into thinking we could bring about a settlement. We can’t; only the people in the area can bring it about. We can help, we can urge, we can persuade, we can provide facilities, we can coordinate with the UN, with the Soviets, and with the British and French, but ultimately it’s going to have to be the Arabs and the Israelis that either make peace or don’t. And frankly I’m not hopeful that this can be done in the next year or so. The suspicion and mistrust on both sides is very great.”

Yost said he suspected the U.S. would try to promote “some sort of interim agreement along the Suez Canal which would provide for a partial Israeli pullback and an opening of the Suez Canal.” He added that although he was not optimistic about the conclusions of negotiations next year, he was optimistic about their beginning. Focusing on the General Assembly debate on the Middle East, taking place when the interview was given, Yost forecast it would have “no more significant result than the previous annual debates, which have generated a great deal more heat than light.” But, he added, he believed a real effort would be made to recommence same significant negotiations after the debate was over.

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