WASHINGTON (Dec. 19)
Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Dam suggested today that the stalled Israeli-Lebansese talks could be successfully concluded fairly soon if Lebanon and Syria agreed to Israel’s demands for “adequate security arrangements” on its northern borders if Israeli troops are withdrawn from south Lebanon.
“That appears to be quite a reasonable position; a position we support,” Dam told foreign reporters at a briefing at the U.S. Foreign Press Center here. “I don’t really see why other parties should not be prepared to assure Israel of that security.”
While stressing that the United States was not taking sides, Dam noted that “the security of Israel is a fundamental tenet of American foreign policy.” He added that once the Israeli request was agreed upon, then the details could be worked out.
ASSESSES U.S. FOREIGN POLICY IN 1984
The number two man in the State Department gave the foreign reporters an assessment of U.S. foreign policy in 1984 which he said was a “fruitful year” for U.S. diplomacy. But it has “not been the best year for Middle East diplomacy,” he said.
In particular, he noted that the U.S. was “disappointed” by Lebanon’s cancellation of the Israeli-Lebanese agreement which was the price the Lebanese government had to pay for support from the pro-Syrian factions in Lebanon.
Dam made it clear that the Reagan Administration will continue its stated policy of not taking any initiatives either in Lebanon or in the overall Middle East peace process until the countries directly involved agree to negotiate the issues.
In Lebanon, he said Israel, Syria and Lebanon “war us to help move negotiations along” and noted that Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs now in the Mideast, has been playing a “useful role behind the scenes.”
REITERATES THAT U.S. WILL NOT BE A MEDIATOR
But he reiterated the U.S. will not be a mediator in negotiations and stressed that Murphy is not conducting the type of “shuttle diplomacy” previously seen in the Middle East. Dam said that he did not believe there would be any new movement in the Middle East process until the situation in Lebanon is resolved.
“We remain actively alert to move the process alon whenever the parties are amenable,” he said. But he stressed it was up to Israel and the Arab states to get the process moving by agreeing to negotiate. The U.S. can “only encourage countries to act,” he said. “They are the ones to act.”
Dam said that because of this, there is no need to change President Reagan’s September 1, 1982 Middle East peace initiative, which he said was “not a blueprint which has to be adopted” but “a suggestion of a basis for negotiations.”
He said the “point is not for one side or the other to negotiate with the United States as to what the United States’ plan is. They should negotiate with each other.”
U.S. INSISTING ON DIRECT NEGOTIATIONS
This is one of the reasons the U.S. rejects the proposal by the Soviet Union for an international Mideast conference. “We are insisting that the parties directly involved get together and negotiate rather than allowing ourselves to divert negotiations in some global type of conference in which large speeches are made and other agendas are important,” Dam said.