WASHINGTON (Jan. 16)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger conceded tonight that his “step-by-step diplomacy” in the Middle East is “facing increasing difficulties” but that “I expect over the next months, progress will be made.” In an hour-long interview with Bill Moyers of the National Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the Secretary also conceded that “detente has had a set-back” in the Soviet Union’s rejection of the 1972 U.S.-Soviet trade pact, but said, “I don’t think it is correct to say that the Soviet Union will not fulfill the recent agreement on trade.”
Kissinger said in reply to questions that “none of the Arab states likely to fight in a war has received American arms.” The U.S. is supplying arms to Saudi Arabia and Jordan. He pointed out that the sale of U.S. arms to Israel “is necessitated by the fact that the Arab countries are receiving arms supplies from the Soviet Union and because the security of Israel has been an American objective in all American administrations since the end of World War II.”
Kissinger stressed that “a final solution” in the Middle East “must involve the Soviet Union” and declared that “it has never been part of our policy to exclude the Soviet Union from a final solution.” He said that the Soviet Union was “always kept generally informed of what we were doing.” He affirmed that the Soviet Union “has not been exceptionally helpful but it has also not been exceptionally obstructive” in the Middle East, and that Moscow was not “playing adversary politics” in that region.
REASONS FOR TRADE PACT REPUDIATION
Referring to the repudiation of the trade pact, Kissinger observed that “unfortunately” Congress passed legislation that imposed special conditions on the Soviet Union not foreseeable when the agreement was negotiated in 1972.
“We (the Ford Administration) went along” with the legislation “with the utmost reluctance,” the Secretary said. “I don’t want to assess blame,” but legislative restrictions, coupled with Export-Import Bank credit restrictions “had the effect of causing the Soviet Union to reject the agreement,” Kissinger said.
He added, “We will go back to Congress with the attitude that both sides should learn from this experience.” He said that “detente has had a set-back” but the “imperative” of preventing nuclear warfare will enable Congress and the Administration to cooperate in shaping foreign policy.