ARLINGTON, Va. (Apr. 22)
Secretary of State George Shultz stressed his commitment to Israel and urged Arab governments to agree to direct negotiations with the Jewish State.
“Those who take risks for peace should know that the United States will help them defend themselves,” he told some 1,200 persons attending the opening session yesterday of the 26th annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel here.
“The U.S. must continue to support those who seek negotiations and peaceful solutions against those who promote violence and oppose peace,” he said.
Shultz, who noted that Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, is now in the Middle East to explore “practical steps” toward peace, declared, “But what ever opportunities may emerge, no one in the region or throughout the world can have the slightest doubt about American policy: Israel’s vital interests will never be compromised; Israel’s survival and security will never be put at risk.”
Shultz, stressing that the U.S. remains committed to President Reagan’s September 1, 1982 Middle East peace initiative, said that anyone can bring any position to negotiations. He said there is no shortage of plans in the Middle East but what was needed was direct, face-to-face negotiations. “Its not the going-in position, its the coming-out position that matters,” he said.
Shultz stressed that the U.S. supports a negotiated settlement which will give the Palestinian people their “legitimate rights” but does not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “Nor will we support annexation or permanent control by Israel,” he said.
He also said U.S. policy toward the Palestine Liberation Organization is unchanged. “We will never recognize or negotiate with any group that espouses violent solutions or refuses to accept (UN Security Council) resolutions 242 and 338 or recognize Israel’s right to exist.”
When Shultz was asked what he thought about the recent meeting in Jordan between five U.S. Congressmen and PLO chief Yasir Arafat, he said “personally, I don’t think it is a good idea.”
STRESSES U.S. COMMITMENT TO ISRAEL
Shultz, who stressed the U.S. commitment to Israel throughout his speech, was applauded at least 27 times. He repeated his position that the U.S. wants to help Israel in its economic crisis. “But our help will be of little avail if Israel does not take the necessary steps to cut government spending, improve productivity, open up its economy and overhaul the mechanism of economic policy.”
He announced that an example of close cooperation between the U.S. and Israel will be the signing today of the Free Trade Area agreement. (See separate story, P.3.)