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State Department Says U.S. Position on Mideast Peace Process is Unchanged

The State Department said today that the “basic” positions of the United States regarding the Middle East peace process continue “unchanged” and that “every statement” by the United States since Saturday is “relatively unchanged.”

Hodding Carter, Assistant Secretary of State and spokesman for the Department, was asked whether the U.S. positions that the Palestinians must be represented and a unified Arab delegation would attend is affected by the agreement between the United States and Israel.

“That much, yes definitely, our positions are unchanged on the basic. . .” Carter said, halting without ending the sentence. Then he added, “As a matter of fact, in a relatively inconsistent world, I could give you every statement that the U.S. government has made since Saturday afternoon on this subject as being relatively unchanged except in the eloquence of the speaker. We have said the same things repeatedly.”

Carter added that the U.S.-Soviet statement was offered as a “common denominator approach,” on how it views what the results of Geneva should be. Saying he said it Saturday when the Soviet-American agreement was announced, Carter added that “at no time did we suggest that as either an attempt to impose a settlement or force others to sign up and certainly it was never implied that to accept that was a requisite for going to Geneva.”

Carter said he could not immediately respond to a question whether a Geneva conference could be held if one or more countries did not attend. The questioner asked hypothetically whether a conference were possible if Egypt, Jordan and Israel were present but not Syria. Carter was also asked whether the Soviet Union would now enter relations with Israel in view of the Soviet-American agreement. He referred the questioner to the Israelis and the Russians.

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