Jerusalem (Jan. 6)
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger stressed the necessity of “some visible American presence” in the Middle East as a deterrent to Soviet aggression in the region and to bolster the confidence of countries concerned about Soviet designs.
At a final press conference here before leaving today for Saudi Arabia, the next stopover on his current Middle East tour, Kissinger also said he was inclined to put less stress on the “Jordanian option” for a general Arab-Israeli settlement than he was before he began his trip.
MODIFIES VIEW ON JORDANIAN OPTION
“While I continue to favor a Jordanian participation, I think it has to be brought into a relationship also to the Egyptian role in the talks. It is a more complex problem than I had originally thought,” Kissinger said.
The American diplomat, who conferred with President Anwar Sadat in Cairo before coming to Israel last Saturday, said he had “gained a clearer understanding than I had before of the role Egypt feels it has the duty to play in the autonomy talks and that therefore, one of the alternative formulations that were being discussed intellectually (the Jordanian option) do not seem to me as self-evident as they did previously.”
Sadat does not favor Jordanian participation in the autonomy talks at this time and told Kissinger so in Cairo last week. Israel’s opposition Labor Party, on the other hand, bases its policy on negotiations with King Hussein for a compromise settlement on the West Bank. Kissinger suggested two approaches–that the autonomy talks continue without Hussein or talks to explore the “Jordanian option” be combined with the autonomy talks. He said he was now more optimistic than ever before that a settlement would be achieved.
OUTLINES TWO NECESSITIES
Kissinger stressed repeatedly during his stay in Israel and again on his departure that his trip is strictly private and that his comments should be regarded in that light. He spoke at some length on strategic matters, emphasizing the need for a large American presence in the Middle East to counter Soviet gains in Afghanistan and Ethiopia and Soviet-supported operations in Libya.
“I do not think that the leaders of this area who are concerned about this can visualize a concept of a rapid deployment force which comes from the U.S. 8000 miles away into what?” he said.
“I therefore believe we have two necessities: one is to put some visible American presence into this perimeter, along the lines of the facilities that have already been negotiated by the Carter Administration and that should now be given some content. That would at least indicate we are there and that attacking key countries is not a matter in which the United States can be disinterested.
“And secondly, we require for our own country a strategic doctrine which enables us to be relevant to these crises, together with other interested countries, one way or another, this seems to me to be essential.”
Kissinger also said he thought Israel would be paying more and more attention to its internal affairs as its Knesset elections approach this year and would concentrate less on negotiations with the Arabs.