Voa Will Avoid Contact with the PLO

The Voice of America “will definitely continue” to adhere to U.S. government policy forbidding official U.S. contact with the Palestine Liberation Organization, a spokesman for the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) said today. The spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “VOA policy” on handling news and commentaries will remain unchanged “because that is American government policy and not State Department policy alone.”

The question of VOA relations with the PLO arose after a joint USIA-State Department statement outlined terms of a reorganization of U.S. information and cultural organizations, including the cultural affairs bureau maintained at the State Department. VOA, an arm of USIA, becomes a separate establishment under the reorganization outlined by President Carter.

The USIA spokesman said that VOA’s new director, Peter Straus, “supports that policy” of no VOA contacts with PLO individuals. Continuance of the policy, he said, will depend “of course on the Administration’s attitude towards the PLO,” At the State Department, a spokesman said that the Department always had provided “advice” to USIA on U.S. foreign policy so that the policy is “understood” at that agency and therefore a ban on PLO contacts remains in effect.

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