WASHINGTON (Sep. 3)
The State Department marked the second anniversary of President Reagan’s September 1, 1982 Middle East peace intiative by stressing that the Administration still considers Reagan’s proposals the most “valid” means of achieving peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Department spokesman John Hughes, declaring that the proposals in the initiative “remain as valid today as when they were presented, ” rejected as “unfair” charges that the Administration has not been pursuing it in recent months.
He said, at a press briefing last Friday, that while there have been many “obstacles, ” such as the “upheaval in Lebanon, ” the Administration has had a continuing “major diplomatic effort” in the Middle East. However, Hughes stressed, that does not mean that any “imminent breakthrough” is expected.
REJECTS SOVIET PROPOSAL FOR MIDEAST CONFERENCE
“That does not alter the fact the peace is worth pursuing; that nobody else has come up with any other kind of alternative that seems to make a great deal of sense, ” Hughes said. He rejected the Soviet Union’s proposal for an international conference on the Mideast as not “a particularly helpful or constructive approach.”
Hughes said that the U.S. cannot “do nothing and sit back while people kill themselves in the Mideast.” He said that, instead, the Administration’s position is to continue to work at it however hard the assignment may be and however long the road.”
However, many observers believe that the Administration’s Mideast effort has been put on hold pending the U.S. and Israeli elections. Reagan did not mention his initiative in his acceptance speech to the Republican national convention nor is it mentioned in the Republican Party platform.
Hughes refused to comment on whether a new Israeli government will accept the Reagan initiative. Premier Menachem Begin rejected the proposal as soon as it was announced and his successor, Yitzhak Shamir, maintained this position.
U.S. MIDEAST POSITION OUTLINED
Asked about this, Hughes noted that the peoples in the Mideast had been fighting each other for years and there were “lots of antagonism” and this caused ” the major obstacle.” Hughes outlined the U.S. position in the following formal statement:
“The positions in the President’s September 1 initiative remain as valid today as when they were presented. The President’s initiative represents a set of fair balanced positions on key issues which the negotiating parties will have to resolve. These remain the positions the U.S. will support whenever the parties themselves are ready to engage in negotiations.
“Acceptance of our positions by the parties is not necessary in advance of the negotiations and is not a prerequisite for a U.S. mediating role. We expect the parties to bring their own ideas to the table. On the other hand, the failure of the parties, thus far, to accept our positions has not lessoned our confidence in their validity.
“The U.S. intends to continue to pursue its goals throughout the region, the foremost among which is a just and lasting peace between Israel and all its neighbors. We therefore remain committed to a speedy resumption of negotiations based on Security Council Resolution 242 and we remain committed as well to the Camp David framework. We are convinced that the President’s initiative which is based squarely on both resolution 242 and the Camp David framework can point the way to a lasting agreement acceptable to all the parties.”