WASHINGTON (Jul. 11)
High State Department sources, outlining the U.S. attitude toward prospects for a Middle East peace settlement, said today that each of the six original participants in the Geneva peace conference will have the right to veto the admission of other participants, that the U.S. will continue to seek to strengthen its bilateral ties with Israel, and the Arab states and that the U.S. is advocating restraint, “diplomatically and otherwise” in attempts to curb terrorist acts in the Middle East
The sources admitted when questioned that no high Arab official has at any time been heard to say specifically that Israel will be recognized as a sovereign Jewish State. But at the same time, “happily,” one does not hear with frequency the threat to drive Israel into the sea, the sources said. They said Arab recognition of Israel seemed, however, to be implicit in the adherence of certain Arab states to United Nations resolutions referring to Israel.
The sources disclosed that representatives of the governments of Israel, Egypt, Syria and Jordan will meet with American officials here in the next 6-8 weeks to discuss the next phase of a program toward a Middle East peace settlement. The sources said the U.S. would continue its step-by-step bilateral contacts, hopefully clarifying circumstances for the resumption of the Geneva talks, possibly some time in Sept. An Arab summit session is scheduled for earlier that month, the sources noted.
They indicated that a Jordanian-Israeli “disengagement” possibly will be the next move and a second possibility was between Israel and Egypt in Sinai. But progress need not necessarily advance in tandem, the sources said. They said the U.S. position would be determined by the attitudes of the two sides on each issue.
RESTRAINT IN FACE OF TERRORIST ACTS
The sources expected continuation of “individual acts of terrorism” which they regarded as designed to block a peace settlement and said the U.S. was advocating restraint “diplomatically and otherwise.” With regard to the Palestinians, the sources said that while U.S. diplomats have met with Palestinian representatives on numerous occasions they have not been high level contacts.
Neither Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, Undersecretary Joseph J. Sisco nor Assistant Secretary Alfred Atherton has ever been in contact with Yasser Arafat, the Palestine Liberation Organization leader, the sources stressed.
The sources said the U.S. will continue to be centrally involved in the ongoing Mideast peace negotiations and that the Soviet Union indicated at the recent Moscow summit talks that it will work with the U.S. to bring about resumption of the Geneva conference and a durable peace. According to the sources, both sides at the Moscow summit talks felt that what is needed over the next two months is a “breathing spell” so that the Geneva talks can be resumed.
The sources referred to today’s departure of Treasury Secretary William Simon on a visit to Egypt. Israel, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as a mission to put “meat on the bones of bilateral cooperation” with those countries in the economic, scientific and cultural fields.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department announced today that a five-man U.S. military team is scheduled to arrive in Egypt Sunday to study the Egyptian armed forces role in the Yom Kippur War. Reports that the team will survey Egyptian arms needs have been denied by the Pentagon. But it has acknowledged that Egyptian officers may use the opportunity to tell the team what American weapons they might want.