WASHINGTON (Oct. 17)
President Nixon, speaking to newsmen at the White House in the presence of four Arab ministers, declared today that “our goal” in the Middle East is a “fair, just and peaceful settlement and we are dedicated to that goal.” The President described this objective as a “major goal and an urgent goal at this time which we believe can, must and will be achieved.” “Whatever differences with regards to means we have and certain ends,” the President added, “this goal is a fair and equitable peace.” While Nixon mentioned a just peace the Arab foreign ministers in their comments spoke only of peace.
The Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister, Omar al-Sakhaf, saying he was speaking for 18 Arab countries, declared in English that the hour-long meeting between the President and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia. Algeria, Morocco and Kuwait was “fruitful.” After saying the four ministers were “well received” and had a “very good” discussion the Saudi added, “We think a man (Nixon) with his achievements for peace all over the world can easily be able to play a good role in having peace in our area in the Mideast.”
When a reporter asked al-Sakhaf if oil was discussed at the meeting, Nixon intervened to say: “It is not fair to ask him. He speaks for 18 countries.” Nixon told reporters gathered on the White House lawn that “all aspects” of the situation were discussed at the meeting and their conversations will continue. There was no elaboration of these points. The meeting was held at the request of the Arab ministers.
Before the meeting, Nixon told the Saudi foreign minister that he will visit the Arab nation but did not specify when. “I was supposed to be there in your country,” the President said, “but there was a little war.” This was in reference to the Six-Day War in 1967 when Nixon was out of office and visited Morocco before the war and Israel shortly after. President Nixon made his remarks as they were photographed in the President’s oval office with the three other Arab foreign ministers, Abdelazis Bouteflika of Algeria, Ahmed Benhima of Morocco and Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah of Kuwait.
The four foreign ministers were closeted with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Joseph J. Sisco for 45 minutes before the group joined the President. As the Moroccan minister was getting into his car to leave the White House, Dr. Kissinger was overheard saying to him: “I’ll be seeing you in five months.” There was no explanation given. After leaving the White House the four Arab ministers joined Dr. Kissinger and Sisco at the State Department for lunch and further talks. The Department said no reports would be given on any of the three discussions.