PARIS (Aug. 4)
White House press secretary Ron Nessen denied today that a reported identity of views on the Middle East between President Ford and Yugoslav President Tito meant that Ford had endorsed Tito’s call for a separate Palestinian state, according to reports reaching here from Belgrade, Nessen’s denial came after the two leaders, following talks which focussed on the Mideast, called for moderation and flexibility in the attempt to reach a settlement in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The two Presidents spoke to reporters today at the end of Ford’s visit to Belgrade which also marked the end of the American President’s 10 day visit to Europe. Ford emphasized that a stalemate in the current Israeli-Egyptian talks on an interim Sinai agreement was unacceptable.
At a dinner for Ford last night, the 83-year-old Yugoslav leader said that Israel must withdraw from Arab territories as soon as possible and recognize Palestinian independence. Ford took no notice in his own remarks of Tito’s surprise statement which was seen as implying criticism of Secretary of State Henry A, Kissinger’s step-by-step negotiations.
But then Tito again surprised newsmen today when he said his views and Ford’s were identical on the Mideast, according to reports arriving here, He said he formed this opinion “after I heard what President Ford said about the actions the United States intends to take in the future.” Nessen, according to the reports, said there was no change in U.S. policy which says that the rights of Palestinians should be recognized in any settlement but avoids any position on the eventual outcome of negotiations.