WASHINGTON (Nov. 25)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said today at a news conference in Detroit that he continued to favor interim agreements in the Middle East settlement process but that he would be prepared to “encourage” conference of some kind between Israel and its three Arab neighbors but without Palestinian participation.
Discussing a news report that the U.S. is abandoning its step-by-step diplomacy in view of the Syrian-Israeli impasse over the Golan Heights. Kissinger said that he did not agree with the report and declared step-by-step negotiations “are not out.”
“Our view always has been to support a step-by-step approach if the parties want it,” he said, However, he continued, the U.S. is prepared to support a Geneva or a Geneva-type or a “preparatory” conference or an “informal meeting” with the participation of the parties which received the “original letters of invitation” from the United Nations. These were the U.S., the Soviet Union, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Israel.
Syria is now insisting that the Palestine Liberation Organization participate in discussion with Israel as a condition to its agreement to renew the mandate for UNDOF to remain on the Golan Heights. The mandate expires Sunday, Israel has rejected the Syrian demand, UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim is in the Middle East seeking a renewal of the mandate.
OPPOSES SYRIAN POSITION ON PLO
Asked about the seriousness of reports that Waldheim was having difficulty effecting an agreement between Israel and Syria, Kissinger said he has not seen official reports on the Waldheim conversation in Syria and Israel. But his comments indicated that the U.S. is supporting Israel against the Syrian position to bring in the PLO.
With specific reference to the continuation of the UNDOF force, Kissinger said that “we still believe that extension of the mandate is essential,” adding that “increased tension on the Golan would serve nobody,” Kissinger met with newsmen following an address last night to the Economic Club of Detroit.