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U.S. Position Toward PLO Includes Contacts with PLO Sympathizers

The Carter Administration’s position towards the Palestine Liberation Organization includes having “contacts” with individuals who have sympathy with the PLO. The “Administration’s policy” was stated in a letter from President Carter’s special Middle East Ambassador Robert Strauss to Rep. Lee Hamilton (D. Ind.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East. The letter, dated Oct. 26, and made public by Hamilton, was in response to Hamilton’s observation last week when Strauss was testifying at a subcommittee hearing that top U.S. government officials used different words, including “talks” and “contacts” with the PLO in describing U.S. relations with that group.

“This Administration has held to an absolute and consistent policy of abiding by the agreement made with the government of Israel at the time of the Sinai 11 agreement in September, 1975,” the Strauss letter said. “That agreement states that the United States ‘will not recognize nor negotiate with the PLO so long as the PLO does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and does not accept Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.’

“That commitment is contained in a ‘memorandum of agreement between the governments of Israel and the United States: the Geneva Peace Conference,’ which was transmitted to the Congress at the time of the agreement. Let there be no misunderstanding of this basic policy. In the context of the autonomy talks, as agreed at Camp David, we — like the governments of Israel and Egypt — maintain a dialogue with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as appropriate. This may include contacts with individuals who sympathize with the PLO.”

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