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Ford Raps Administration on Mideast

Former President Gerald Ford criticized President Carter’s handling of the Middle East conflict for abandoning the previous administration’s step-by-step approach and bringing the Soviet Union into the peace-making process. Ford offered his views last night in the course of an hour-long televised interview with NBC news correspondent John Chancellor, devoted to U.S. foreign policy.

“We would have urged bilateral agreements between Egypt and Israel, Israel and Jordan and then Israel and Syria,” Ford said, but the Carter Administration proposed reconvening the Geneva conference, thereby inviting the Soviet Union back into the peace-making process. He also suggested that Carter gave some encouragement to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The former President warned that unless progress is made toward a Middle East settlement, President Anwar Sadat’s government would be in danger. “It would be tragic,” he said, “if the current stalemate in the Middle East resulted in a change in government in Egypt… There are forces in Egypt today that are making noises that might precipitate some problems for President Sadat. We’ve got to keep the movement toward peace in that part of the world going.”

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