WASHINGTON (Nov. 7)
White House Press Secretary Ronald Nessen affirmed yesterday that the United States was still seeking means to safeguard the “legitimate Interests” of the Palestinian Arabs in any Mideast peace settlement. Nessen made the comment to newsmen seeking clarification of a comment by President Ford during an Oct. 29 press conference which Included a reference to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The President said the U.S. wanted to see solutions reached between Israel and Jordan “or the PLO.” That comment was made two days after the recent Arab summit conference at Rabat which authorized the PLO to take over all Arab territories yielded by Israel.
On the day after the Oct. 29 press conference, Nessen refused to discuss whether Ford’s refer- once to the PLO indicated any change in America’s Mideast policy and referred newsmen to the State Department, which issued an unusual written statement, declaring that “our position has not changed.”
LEGITIMATE INTERESTS OF PALESTINIANS
Nessen said yesterday that “the United States recognizes that full consideration must be given to the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people if there is to be a Just and durable settlement in the Middle East.” He then quoted from the State Department Oct. 30 letter the following statement:
“The only question has been how to proceed In order to reach this objective, given the positions of those involved in the negotiations.” Nessen then slightly paraphrased a sentence from the State Department letter that “the United States will continue to seek the answer and to use our best efforts to assist the parties to get negotiations started.”
A spokesman for the Israel Embassy in Washington said today that the United States had not asked Israel to end its refusal to negotiate with the PLO, neither in the past nor currently. The spokesman said acting Israeli Ambassador Mordecai Shalev had sought information yesterday at both the White House and the State Department about Nessen’s statement. The spokesman said Shalev was assured there was “no change” in U.S. policy on the Palestinian question.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, who is in the Mideast this week, said yesterday in Cairo: “We will remain in close contact with all of the parties and encourage progress wherever the possibility exists.” Some observers here felt that the reference to all parties included the PLO and that it was even possible that some unofficial low-level talks with the PLO have already taken place.