Kissinger Denies U.s.soviet Accord on Palestinian Role in Geneva Talks

Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger emphatically denied yesterday that the United States and the Soviet Union had agreed on the participation of Palestinians in the Geneva Middle East peace conference when it reconvenes. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, recorded by the state Department here, Kissinger insisted that U.S. policy toward the Palestinians was “absolutely” unchanged.

He rejected a reporter’s statement that the superpowers, at their third summit conference, had agreed to the entry of Palestinians into the Geneva conference as “the Russians wanted.” The reporter apparently based his assertion on the joint Nixon-Brezhnev communique which, in its section on the Middle East, referred to “the legitimate interests of all peoples in the Middle East, including the Palestinians.”

“Absolutely not.” Kissinger said with regard to an alleged agreement on Palestinian participation. The participants in the Geneva conference, to which invitations were extended by the United Nations six months ago, are Israel, Egypt. Syria and Jordan with the USSR and U.S. serving as co-chairmen.

(Arriving in Tel Aviv today. Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R.NY) hailed Kissinger’s recent disengagement mission in the Middle East and said American friendship toward Israel remained unchanged. Javits assured Israelis that the reference to the rights of the Palestinians in the Nixon-Brezhnev communique was not a euphemism for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank of the Jordan. Nor does it symbolize international status for Palestinian terror organizations, he said. According to Javits, the term “legitimate interests” can be interpreted in various ways. He stressed that Israel recognized some rights of the Palestinians such as monetary compensation and freedom to leave refugee camps and lead a normal life. Javits welcomed America’s renewed friendship with the Arab states and said it was beneficial to Israel as well.)

According to the text of the Nixon-Brezhnev communique received in Washington, the section on the Middle East said: “Both sides believe that the removal of the danger of war and tension in the Middle East is a task of paramount importance and urgency, and therefore, the only alternative is the achievement, on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 338, of a just and lasting settlement in which should be taken into account the legitimate interests of all peoples in the Middle East including the Palestinian people, and the right of existence of all states in the area,” Resolution 338, adopted last Oct. 22, established the cease-fire that halted the Yom Kippur War and reaffirmed the quest for a Mideast peace settlement based on Resolution 242.

The communique also declared that, as co-chairmen of the Geneva conference, the United States and the Soviet Union “consider it important that the conference resume its work as soon as possible, with the question of other participants from the Middle East area to be discussed at the conference.”

(UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim said in Geneva today that major differences between the parties involved would prevent an early resumption of the Geneva conference. Speaking at his annual press conference at the UN European office in Geneva. Waldheim said wide differences of opinion among the participants barred any early renewal of the conferences, certainly not before the fall. He did not mention any specific example of disagreement.)

Some sources in Washington indicated today that pressure would probably be brought to bear on Israel to admit a Palestinian delegation to the Geneva peace conference some time after it reconvenes later this year.

(Israeli officials in Jerusalem withheld reaction to the communique and its Mideast references pending a special Cabinet session scheduled for tomorrow. The session had been called to discuss Israel’s battle against terrorism but the agenda was broadened to include a discussion of the Moscow summit conference and particularly the communique reference to the “Palestinian people” and their “legitimate interests.”) (By Joseph Polakoff)

NEXT STORY