Carter Praises U.S. -soviet Declaration

President Carter has rejected attacks in Congress and elsewhere on the U.S. -Soviet Mideast peace statement and described it as “an achievement of unprecedented significance.” He also indirectly assailed critics who charge he is engaged in double standards in his efforts for progress towards a Middle East settlement and reiterated U.S. support of Israel.

The President, speaking extemporaneously last Friday before the Democratic National Committee at its offices here, said also that “the leaders of all the nations involved” in the discussions “now have a constructive attitude towards Mideast peace and I believe that we will ultimately be successful.

The Soviet Union, Carter said, has “become much more moderate” in its positions toward the Mideast recently. He noted that “It is an achievement of unprecedented significance that we were able recently to sign a statement with the Soviet Union where they recognized Israel’s right to exist, although they still do not have diplomatic relations.” The Soviet Union, Carter said, “took a moderate attitude” on the Middle East and “they did not insist upon an independent Palestinian state. They did not insist upon naming the PLO. They did not insist upon complete withdrawal of Israel from the territories acquired in 1967.”

The President reiterated that the U.S.-Soviet declaration “is not a prerequisite for the Arab or Israeli governments to adopt in its entirety before they go to Geneva. Neither the Arabs nor the Israelis like every part of it, but it is a good step forward.” He added, to applause: “The key element in the Middle East, in the negotiations that are going on literally day and night now, and which will be a crucial element when we go to Geneva, is the strength, independence, freedom, and peace of the people of Israel.”

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