WASHINGTON (Jun. 24)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said today that while the United States expects to come to an “early judgement” on the procedure for diplomatic progress toward peace in the Middle East a final settlement is “not anywhere near.”
Answering questions at a news conference in Atlanta, Kissinger stressed “we have not many precise decisions as to which method would most serve progress in the Middle East. At the moment we are engaged in diplomatic exchanges with all interested parties.” He said after further conferences a decision will be made whether to seek an interim agreement or attempt to reach an overall settlement.
But Kissinger in a speech last night to the Southern Council on International and Public Affairs and the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, warned that the United States would not accept stalemate or stagnation in the Arab-Israeli conflict. “We can never lose sight of the fact that U.S. foreign policy must do its utmost to protect all its interests in the Middle East,” Kissinger said. (The text received in Washington had the word “all” underlined.) “Given our inescapable involvement–economic, political, military–there is no alternative to the full and active engagement of the United States in the diplomacy of peace in the Middle East,” he said.
WARNING TO ISRAEL SEEN
The Secretary added that an active U.S. role is imperative “because of our historical and moral commitment to the survival and well-being of Israel; because of our important interests in the Arab world; because the eruption of crisis in the Middle East would severely strain our relations with out allies in Europe and Japan; because continuing instability risks a new international crisis over oil and a new setback in the world’s hope for economic recovery” and “because a crisis in the Middle East poses an inevitable risk of direct U.S.-Soviet confrontation…”
Kissinger’s speech last night was seen as a direct warning to Israel that the Ford Administration was taking the issue of Israel’s diplomatic tactics to the American people in the hopes of offsetting support for Israel in Congress. It was also noted that while President Ford in his remarks to Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin spoke of democratic ideals as the cement that binds Israeli-U.S. ties Kissinger made no mention of democratic ties.
The Secretary did not mention the need for Arab commitments in his speech last night but did so at his press conference today. Asked about his remarks some time ago on his assurances to Israel requiring Congressional approval, Kissinger said he was speaking “in the context of a final settlement.” He said such a settlement would include “boundaries, refugees, the Palestinian issue, the future of Jerusalem and Arab peace obligations, that is, specific Arab commitments as to the contents of these” issues. He said “this whole package will undoubtedly require for reinforcement some international and in my view, very Probably some American guarantees. These guarantees cannot be effective unless they have Congressional support,” he stressed. Kissinger added that Congress would look very seriously at any recommendations the President would consider necessary to bring about a final settlement, “but we are not anywhere near that point yet.”