Washington (Jan. 27)
– Secretary of State Alexander Haig was quoted by the State Department today as saying that “so long as the PLO advocates views incompatible with the peace process, the U.S. will not recognize or negotiate with the PLO.”
Haig’s expression was incorporated in a written statement made by the Department spokesman William Dyess on the question raised yesterday on the characterization of the Palestine Liberation. Organization as a terrorist organization. Dyess read the following:
“As the Secretary of State explained in his confirmation hearing, the broad policy with respect to the PLO has been clearly delineated in current American policy and he forsees no fundamental change, namely: ‘so long as the PLO advocates views incompatible with the peace process the U.S. will not recognize or negotiate with the PLO.’
“The more specific issue of the precise legal characterization of the PLO is, like most legal issues, a complex one that neither Secretary Haig nor President Reagan has yet had time to review. As I noted yesterday, there is no question that many member organizations of the PLO are terrorist organizations that openly claim responsibility for terrorist acts around the world.”
NO REFERENCE TO RESOLUTIONS 242 AND 338
The Haig statement and the remarks by Dyess amitted any reference to the PLO’s acceptance of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and Israel’s right to exist– points that characterized the Carter Administration’s policy toward the PLO.
Asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to state whether the Reagan Administration’s position does include those aspects of the Carter policy, Dyess demurred. He observed that he was providing a response to the questions asked and that the new Administration needs time to formulate its policies.
Haig holds his first news conference as Secretary of State tomorrow afternoon. Questions regarding the U.S. position toward the PLO, Jerusalem, Jewish settlements in the West Bank that have been asked at the State Department since the Reagan Administration took office a week ago are expected to be put to him.
Dyess said, in response to questions, that he would not go beyond the statement when he was asked if Haig considered PLO chief Yasir Arafat a terrorist. He said that the peace process mentioned in the statement was not confined to the Camp David formulas but to the general aspects of peace in the Middle East.
DISCLAIMS ANY ‘TRICKY LANGUAGE’
Dyess was asked whether the structure of his statement indicated that the Reagan Administration was willing to deal with the PLO apart from negotiating, but on a pattern of former UN Ambassador Andrew Young’s informal conversations with the PLO in New York in July, 1979. “No, no,” Dyess exclaimed. “There is no tricky language here.” He said” there is no hidden meaning here– a loophole to go through — to talk with them.”
In another statement touching on this point and with reassurance to Israel, Dyess said the Administration is conducting a policy review expected of a new Administration and added, “in particular the U.S. commitment to Israel and other friendly states in the area remain very firm and we expect no significant change with any country. One of the many purposes of the review is to determine ways in which we can better support our friends.”