China Indicates Possible Change in Attitude Toward Israel

The possibility that the People’s Republic of China may, be easing its stand of refusing to recognize Israel was seen in comments by Deputy Prime Minister Keng Pian in Peking to a delegation of visiting American civic affairs leaders, according to Howard Squadron, president of the American Jewish Congress, the only Jewish member of the delegation witch had visited China at the invitation of the post-Mao leadership.

Squadron took notes of an interview Nov. 25 with Keng and read from them to reporters last Friday in his Manhattan law office. He also ascribed his conversation with Keng in an interview Friday night with Victor Riesel on radio station WEVD.

Squadron, who returned recently from the visit, said he asked Keng if there could be any reconsideration of China’s standing refusal to recognize Israel, in view of the recent movements between Israel and Egypt toward a peace agreement. Keng replied that the Chinese people and the Jewish people have in common more love for country than any other people. “Squadron also said Keng added that China agreed with the Egyptian position in the currently stalemated Middle East talks and that Israel “must be responsive to the needs of the Egyptians” and that in any settlement, Israel “must withdraw from most of the territory” it seized in the Six-Day War.

Squadron said in his office that his initial reaction was that Keng had not told him any thing. Later Leonard Woodcock, head of the U.S. Mission to Peking, who had remained silent through the question-and-answer session with the visiting Americans, said there had been two important changes in Keng’s comments.

One was the comment on the similarities of love of country of the Israelis and the Chinese. The other was the reference of partial withdrawal from occupied territories. Woodcock said that previously, the Chinese have insisted that Israel must withdraw from all occupied areas. Squadron said he had told Keng he believed peace was likely in the Middle East unless the Soviet Union caused “mischief.” Keng responded, Squadron said, that China had watched the Camp David summit talks hoped they would lead to peace but was not in any position to help.

According to Squadron, Keng said the United States should accelerate its efforts to bring about on Egyptian-Israel peace because is it did not, the Soviet Union “would begin to deal with this situation through the rejectionist front,” a reference to the Arab countries which have criticized Egypt’s talks with Israel and have sought to persuade Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to call off the negotiations.

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