Kissinger Optimistic That Mideast is Closer to Peace Than It Has Been at Any Time in a Generation

Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger declared here today that the Middle East is “closer to the goal of peace, than at any time in a generation” as the result of the progress made in that area since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In delivering a major foreign policy address to the General Assembly, he said “the step by step negotiations of the past three years have now brought us to a point where comprehensive solutions seem possible. The decision before us now is how the next stage of negotiations should be launched.”

Kissinger also said that the United States is prepared to participate in early resumption of the Geneva conference. “We think a preparatory conference might be useful for a discussion of the structure of future negotiations, but we are open to other suggestions.” He added, however, that whatever steps are taken they must be carefully prepared “so that once the process begins, the nations concerned will advance steadily toward agreement.”

Observing that the role of the United Nations in the Middle East has been “crucial,” Kissinger stated that “Security Council resolutions formed the only agreed framework for negotiations” in the Middle East.

Concluding his brief remarks on the Arab-Israel conflict, the Secretary said “the groundwork that has been laid represents an historic opportunity. The United States will do all it can to assure that by the time this Assembly meets next year it will be possible to report significant further progress toward a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

Turning to the situation in Lebanon, Kissinger declared that the U.S. opposes partition of Lebanon and expressed the hope that peace will be restored in Lebanon. He said “the United States strongly supports the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of that troubled country.”

URGES STRONG ACTION AGAINST TERRORISM

On the question of terrorism, Kissinger called for strong action and said “it is inconceivable” that the UN would fail to act against it. He noted that since he addressed the Assembly last year “there have been 11 hijackings, 42 armed attacks and 112 bombings perpetrated by international terrorists” killing more than 70 people and injuring more than 200.

“It is time this organization said to the world that the vicious murder and abuse of innocents cannot be absolved or excused by the invocation of lofty motives,” Kissinger declared. “Criminal acts against humanity, whatever the professed objective, cannot be excused by any civilized nation.”

Kissinger supported the proposal made earlier this week in the Assembly by West Germany against the taking of hostages, said that “more stringent steps must be taken now to deny skyjackers and terrorists a safe haven” and called for more stringent means to protect passengers in transit and terminal areas as well as in flight. But he warned that if the UN does not act, the U.S. “will act through its own legislative processes and in conjunction with others willing to join us.”

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