WASHINGTON (Oct. 13)
Despite the Soviet-American Mideast statement of Oct. I denoting close cooperation between the two countries, the U.S. has not provided the Soviet Union with a copy of the Israel-American working paper which Washington has transmitted to five Arab countries, the State Department disclosed today.
Although President Carter praised the Soviet-American statement last Friday as an “achievement of unprecedented significance,” the State Department appeared today to downgrade the importance both of the joint statement and the working paper.
When the Jewish Telegraphic Agency asked whether Moscow has a copy of the working paper, Department spokesman Hodding Carter replied, “No.” Afterwards, he described it as “simply a paper” in U.S. efforts to “narrow the differences between the parties” in the U.S. initiated movement for a Geneva conference.
The joint statement represents views of the cochairmen of the conference, Hodding Carter said. He added that “the Soviet Union is very aware of our activities but not each and every detail has to be done together.” He acknowledged, however, that all the parties to the conference have to agree on procedure before a conference can open.
DIVISION OF LABOR CITED
A State Department authority told reporters that the Soviets were not given the working paper because the U.S. and Soviets each has areas in which to operate with more ability. While the U.S. relates to all the nations, the USSR “clearly has a different kind of relation than we have with some parties.” In this context he pointed to the Soviets “direct relations” with the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Soviet Union is the prime backer of Syria which is a main supporter of the PLO.
The State Department source said “the joint statement did not preempt the field which we have been undertaking since February to work as a major broker in the area.” The Soviet position supportive of the PLO and a Palestinian state, he said, has been “articulated publicly” and there are no changes in that.
It was understood that the U.S. sidelined Moscow on the working paper because a Soviet-American position might renew the uproar in Congress the joint statement caused.
In discussing the joint U.S. -USSR statement and the working paper, Carter said “We have positions not totally shared by Israel and by a number of parties,” thereby indicating that the working paper does not represent a complete accord between the U.S. and Israel. Carter predicted changes in it after the Arabs provide their views on the working paper.