WASHINGTON (Nov. 28)
The Soviet Union and the United States have formally invited Jordan to attend a Middle East peace conference, the State Department disclosed today. Envoys of the two superpowers. Department spokesman George Vest said, extended the invitation yesterday individually. “Our representatives undertook a similar approach in several other capitals of normal, actively interested participants,” he said.
Vest declined to say whether the Palestine Liberation Organization would be invited or whether “observers” would be present. The fact that Vest referred to “capitals” was considered significant since the PLO has none. But his reference to “participants” put his statement in another light on this issue. A senior Department official observed that “a lot of consideration is going on” and that the Department would not say anything publicly that “will prejudice the process.”
Meanwhile, a special bipartisan group of 21 members of the House Armed Services Committee that has just returned from a 10-day fact-finding trip to Israel, Egypt and the Suez war zone found “hopeful signs” for an Egyptian-Israeli peace and praised soldiers of both countries with a painstaking even hand.
In a statement couched with optimism toward a Middle East settlement, the group said “The most urgent present business for the United States and Soviet interests as well as the combatants is to move as rapidly as possible into full political negotiations between the parties to work out an acceptable, permanent and stable peace arrangement for the whole area.”
The statement was issued by Rep. Samuel S. Stratton (D.N.Y.) who led the group on the trip and met with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. Stratton said it was the first Congressional committee to visit Egypt in more than six years. Stratton also reported that the committee could not visit Syria because of the lack of time.
The committee reported that “hopeful signs” of a peace included observations that leaders of Egypt and Israel “fully recognize” the need for peace to foster economic development in both countries, that “average citizens” in Egypt and Israel do not want war, and that their representatives met face-to-face “in good humor” on the Suez Cairo road for the first such talks in more than 20 years. The committee said that a settlement “must involve some give and take on both sides” and that “a final settlement is unlikely to be totally satisfactory to either side.”