UNITED NATIONS (Sep. 23)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger declared today, “The urgent political responsibility of our era is to resolve conflicts without war.” Addressing the 29th annual session of the General Assembly, he told the 138 member nations that it was in the common interest of each of them “that local conflicts be resolved short of force and their root causes removed by political means.”
However, he cautioned against “attempts to resolve all issues at one time” because “progress toward peace can be thwarted by asking too much as surely as by asking too little…the world community can help resolve chronic conflicts, but exaggerated expectations will prevent essential accommodations among the parties,” Kissinger said. “The Middle East,” he declared, “starkly demonstrates these considerations.”
In his address, Kissinger expressed deep concern over the proliferation of nuclear weapons “as if restraint were automatic,” and implied that there was danger even in the supply of nuclear materials for peaceful purposes to non-nuclear nations.
ADMONITION IS LOW-KEYED
Kissinger spoke at length about the oil problem and its global ramifications. He attributed the high cost of oil not to an actual shortage, or to economic factors or to the free interplay of supply and demand but to “deliberate decisions to restrict production and maintain an artificial price level.”
But the Secretary’s admonition to the Arab oil producing states was not as sharp as that delivered by President Ford in his General Assembly address last week which the Arab delegates here saw as a veiled threat and a hardening of the U.S. attitude toward their countries. Kissinger recognized that “the producers should have a fair share” and appealed to them on the basis of their own “economic well-being” that “the world cannot sustain even the present level of prices, much less continuing increases.”
SHADOW OF WAR REMAINS
Kissinger offered no new observations on the Middle East but warned that while “we have achieved the respite of a cease-fire and of two disengagement agreements…the shadow of war remains.” He said it was the “solemn responsibility” of the member states of the UN “to encourage and support the parties in the Middle East on their present course” toward peace. “During the past year my country has made a major effort to promote peace in the Middle East,” Kissinger said, and “President Ford has asked me to reaffirm today that we are determined to press forward with these efforts. We will work closely with the parties and we will cooperate with all interested countries within the framework of the Geneva conference,” he said.
Kissinger defined the Middle East conflict as one in which “one side seeks the recovery of territory and justice for a displaced people” and “the other side seeks security and recognition by its neighbors of its legitimacy as a nation. In the end,” Kissinger declared, “the common goal of peace surely is broad enough to embrace all these aspirations.”
But he urged a “realistic” approach to a Mideast settlement. “The art of negotiation is to set goals that can be achieved at a given time and to reach them with determination,” he said. “Each step forward modifies old perceptions and brings a bout a new situation that improves the chances of a comprehensive settlement.”
NEED TO CURB NUCLEAR EXPLOSIVES
Kissinger warned that “local wars would take on a new dimension if nuclear weapons were introduced into regions where political conflict, remains intense…Beyond the relations of the nuclear powers to each other, lies the need to curb the spread of nuclear explosives,” he said.
The Secretary hinted that he has reservations over the policy of the United States and a number of other countries which “have widely supplied nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. This policy cannot continue if it leads to the proliferation of nuclear explosives. Sales of these materials can no longer be treated as a purely commercial competitive enterprise,” Kissinger said.
He made no mention, however of President Nixon’s undertaking last June to sell nuclear reactors to Egypt and Israel, a move that many observers felt could lead to the production of nuclear weapons by those countries. “The world community…must work urgently toward a system of effective international safeguards against the diversion of plutonium or its by-products to the manufacture of nuclear explosives,” Kissinger declared. He said the U.S. was prepared to join with others in that effort.
In addition to his General Assembly speech today, Kissinger is meeting here with representatives of Middle Eastern countries to further explore the next stages of peace negotiations. A spokesman for the U.S. Mission at the UN said yesterday that the U.S. “prefers not to have a Middle East debate” at the General Assembly “that would upset the delicate negotiations.” The spokesman said the U.S. was looking for a “constructive debate.”