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Rogers Urges Mideast Parties to Initiate Genuine Negotiations

Secretary of State William P. Rogers has appealed again to the parties in the Middle East conflict to “initiate in 1973 a genuine negotiating process” and stressed anew the U.S. position that a settlement cannot be imposed in that region by “outside force.”

Rogers’ appeal and an outline of U.S. initiatives for peace in the Middle East were contained in a 743-page report on U.S. foreign policy for 1972 presented today to Congress. Rogers listed peace in the Middle East third among the nine major objectives of American foreign policy in 1973. The first two objectives were cooperating with Western and Eastern Europe and helping build peace in Southeast Asia.

Rogers emphasised that an interim agreement to reopen the Suez Canal was a first step in the negotiating process. “Agreement to negotiate requires no change of objectives but only a thoughtful approach to the possibility of mutually advantageous accommodation,” he said, adding that the process would benefit “Palestinians, Israelis and the peoples in the Arab states concerned.”

“It is in such a process and not in nihilistic terrorism of the kind that took the lives of two of our finest diplomats in Khartoum that hope for a better future lies.” Rogers said. He observed that “whatever the roots of terrorism–and we recognize it is often the aberrant outgrowth of deep frustrations–no responsible government can permits policies to be influenced by the acts of international outlaws.”

Rogers noted in this connection that the resurgence of terrorism which culminated in the Lod Airport massacre and the Munich outrage shocked most of the world and raised doubts in Israel about the sincerity of Arab statements of their readiness to reach a genuine peace.”

ESSENTIAL TO MAINTAIN MILITARY BALANCE

The Secretary of State said in his “World Report” that “while efforts to promote a peace settlement are proceeding, it is essential to maintain the military balance” in the Middle East and that “through 1972 we provided Israel and certain Arab states with the arms necessary for them to assure their self-defense.”

He noted that the Middle East was not one of the principal topics discussed by President Nixon and Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid Brezhnev at their Moscow summit meeting last May. However, he said, the U.S. and the Soviet Union recognized that “efforts by either party to obtain unilateral advantage through exploitation of regional disputes such as the one in the Middle East were inconsistent with the mutually agreed for improved Soviet-American relations.”

Rogers said that the danger of a U.S.-Soviet confrontation in the Middle East was “further reduced” by the Egyptian request for the Soviet forces to leave Egypt.

Referring to terrorist incursions against Israel from Lebanon and Israeli counter actions, Rogers said that while “such violations of the cease-fire are of serious concern, they did not lead to broader or prolonged hostilities.” He praised the Lebanese government for demonstrating “a new determination to maintain effective control in the area, along its borders with Israel and in making progress in denying fedayeen access to the frontier zone.”

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