Menu JTA Search

Kissinger Says U.s., USSR Continuing to Exchange Ideas on Mideast

Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said in Helsinki today that the U.S. was continuing to “exchange ideas” with the Soviet Union on the Middle East because “it is clear that no final solution can be achieved by either of the parties by itself.”

He made his remarks to a press conference in the Finnish capital which was piped into the State Department for reporters here. He said, in reply to questions, that the Soviets were skeptical of any results emerging from the current step-by-step process of negotiations between Israel and Egypt but were not actively opposing them.

Kissinger, who is accompanying President Ford at the final session of the European Conference on Security and Cooperation in Helsinki, told reporters that he had discussed the Middle East with Soviet Communist Party Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev and with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson at Helsinki. He said the progress of the current Mideast negotiations was at the top of the list.

“With respect to the Middle East, it is clear that no final settlement can be achieved by either of the parties itself and it is therefore natural that periodically we exchange ideas and also, as co-chairman (with the Soviet Union) of the Geneva conference, we exchange ideas as to the appropriate time when that conference can be reconvened,” Kissinger said. He added, “Of course, we have a long list of bilateral issues. These and other topics will be discussed when we meet again on Saturday.”

SOVIETS NOT OPPOSING CURRENT EFFORTS

Asked if the Soviet Union was satisfied with the present step-by-step negotiations or whether it was anxious to go to Geneva, Kissinger replied, “My impression of the discussions this morning is that while the Soviet Union has indicated several times reservations about the possibilities that the step-by-step approach can reach a final conclusion, it is not actively opposing the efforts that are now going forward.”

Asked if he had discussed with the Soviet leader a compromise on the trade and emigration issue, Kissinger said they had reviewed the discussions that a group of Senators had on their recent visit to the Soviet Union and that the U.S. had pointed out its judgement of what is required with respect to the trade legislation.

Kissinger said that all along the U.S. held the view that progress in this area is more likely to be achieved by an understanding of the needs of each side and that decisions should be made independently on that basis rather than by legislation.

TRADE, SOVIET JEWS ALSO DISCUSSED

The Middle East was also one of the topics of discussion in Helsinki today between Ford and Brezhnev and between Ford and Wilson, at separate meetings in the Finnish capital.

Presidential press secretary Ron Nessen announced in Helsinki that Ford and Wilson discussed the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean security at a breakfast meeting and that later in the day Ford and Brezhnev met for two hours during which they discussed the Middle East, U.S. Soviet relations and the SALT talks before going to Finlandia Hall for the opening of the final session of the European Conference on Security and Cooperation.

According to the reports reaching here, Nessen said that Ford and Brezhnev had planned to defer their discussion of the Mideast until another meeting Saturday but that their talks went so well today that they found time to turn to the Mideast and other issues. In addition to discussing the Mideast, Ford and Brezhnev reportedly discussed Soviet-American bilateral relations, including trade and the emigration of Soviet Jews.

NEXT STORY