WASHINGTON (Oct. 3)
President Nixon expressed the hope today that Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky “will reconsider his position” and not close down Schoenau Castle as a transit center for Soviet Jews enroute to Israel. The President, speaking at a press conference, said he was making his plea “for this fundamental reason…we simply cannot have governments, small or large, give in to international blackmail by terrorist groups. That is what is involved.”
Nixon indicated the United States could not direct Kreisky to change his mind but hoped that Kreisky would reconsider the decision for humanitarian and geopolitical reasons and said the Soviet Jewish emigres must have a place to go. The President said Austria was in a very difficult position because it was a small country and weak military Praising Austria for its humanitarian role in world affairs, Nixon also noted that everyone knew that Kreisky was not anti-Semitic. The Austrian Chancellor is Jewish.
NO U.S. INITIATIVE FOR QUICK SOLUTION
After the President’s news conference the State Department indicated it will not take the initiative in pressing for a quick solution to the Austrian transit center. Ambassador Robert J. McCloskey, the Department’s spokesman, in briefing the press with regard to the suggestion that the United Nations might become involved, declared, “Don’t assume the United States is a clearing house or a principal spokesman” but it “is willing to discuss” the suggestion made by Austrian officials that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees take over the transit center. He said the U.S. will be in touch with the UN on this matter.
When asked for the State Department view of the Egyptian government’s official approval of the terrorist attack in Austria that precipitated the closing of the center, McCloskey, responded with a rare show of anger. Beating his fists on the lectern he said, “at the moment I have no comment on that.” Asked again by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency what would be the Department’s comment if Israelis had raided Libya, he repeated heatedly “at the moment I have no comment on that.” Later he told the JTA that his second no comment was not in reference to Israel but to the Egyptian action.
NO SPECIFIC ALTERNATIVES PROPOSED
Responding to the resolution introduced in the House yesterday for the recall of John Hume, the U.S. Ambassador to Austria, McCloskey reported that Hume will be coming back tonight or tomorrow but emphasized, “it is not a recall in any manner and he will be returning to his post in Vienna.” His return. McCloskey said, is coincident with his plan for a private business visit he had made some time ago.
Asked whether the U.S. had any views on an alternate facility for the Soviet migrants, McCloskey said, “There isn’t much I can say with any confidence (on action) that we know will ensue.” He said that he spoke with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger this morning on the situation and “we have not proposed any specific alternatives.” However, he added, we are prepared to support morally and materially any alternative the interested parties could agree on. Asked who the interested parties are, he said they were Israel, Austria and the UN. But he indicated the U.S. had not been in touch with the Soviet government on this matter.