WASHINGTON (Jul. 25)
The United States has often tried to persuade Israel to go beyond its established position in American efforts towards a Middle East settlement but the Soviet Union has not taken a similar step with any Arab leader, according to former Under-secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco. In an inter- view Friday with CBS, the former diplomat said the “commitment” of the U.S. and of the West is for a “practical solution” of the Arab-Israeli dispute.
“What I have found wanting. ” Sisco observed, “in Soviet policy based on my own experience has been this: that when there has been a negotiation, and when the United States has played a role, I have never found that the Soviet Union has been willing to apply its own persuasion vis-a-vis those with whom it is close that would go beyond a position that a given Arab leader or a given Arab state was taking at the time.”
Continuing Sisco said: “There are many occasions in our relationship, special as it is, with Israel, where we have tended to try to encourage them (Israelis) to go perhaps beyond where their established position may be” but “I cannot find any really concrete evidence where the Soviet has taken this sort of position.”
Sisco, now president of the American University here, said the U.S. and the Soviet Union “have always agreed to disagree when it comes to the substance of a settlement.” He said he has always felt that the U.S. and the West has much more to gain from a peaceful resolution than does the Soviet Union. “We can out-compete the Soviet Union in circumstances of peace” Sisco said.
Sisco’s remarks followed CBS interviewer Richard Hottelot’s comment that some in Washington think Soviet public support for the PLO and coolness toward Syria in the Lebanese situation, despite the close relationship between Syria and Soviet Union over the past 25 years, is because Syria sees an independent convergence of interests by Syria, Jordan, Egypt, the United States and “even Israel” toward a negotiated peace and the Soviets want to block that because if there is peace in the Middle East there is no room there for the USSR.