Carter Says Progress Toward Mideast Settlement is Possible This Autumn

President Carter reiterated last night his belief that there could be progress towards a Middle East settlement this autumn and outlined his government’s diplomatic timetable over the next few months. Speaking in a wide-ranging interview on BBC television’s “Panorama” program, he said that by the end of this month he and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance would have had long conversations with the leaders of the nations directly involved in the dispute.

The United States would then decide whether there was common ground for an agreement and Vance would return to the Middle East and put together “what we think is a consensus among the nations involved.” The U.S. would either “go public with it” or present it as an agenda for a meeting at Geneva.

CANNOT IMPOSE WILL ON OTHERS

Carter said that if he saw clearly “a fair and equitable solution,” he would not hesitate to use “the full strength of the United States and its persuasive powers” to bring about agreement. However, he recognized that the U.S. “cannot impose our will on others,” and unless the countries involved agreed there was no way to make progress.

“At this point,” he added, “we have a group of moderate leaders in the Middle East, all of whom have an inclination to trust our government to be fair. And if I should ever do anything as President to cause the Arab leaders to think that I was unfair to them and their interests, then the hope for peace would be reduced substantially. And the same thing applies to Israel.”

America was in the position of a communicator between the parties “and also of wanting to influence countries to modify their position slightly to accommodate other nations’ interests,” Carter said.

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