WASHINGTON (Feb. 1)
Secretary of State George Shultz reiterated on Thursday U.S. opposition to the participation of the Soviet Union in Middle East peace talks as long as it does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
Shultz was responding to a question from an Israeli reporter in an interview on the U.S. Information Agency’s “Worldnet” program. He was interviewed here by reporters from Bonn, London, Paris, Tel Aviv and Tokyo.
“Furthermore, I know people in Israel feel strongly and so do people in the United States, and I personally do, that the Soviet record in the treatment of people pursuing their religion inside the Soviet Union is bad and we see now a record on Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union is at an extremely low level,” Shultz added.
The Secretary stressed that “attention should be given to those matters as evidence of good intent on the part of the Soviet Union before they take part in something.”
Jordan has insisted that it could conduct negotiations with Israel only as part of an international conference or forum in which the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council participate. But two of them, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
BASIS FOR ELIGIBILITY
“To truly be eligible to take part, countries involved should have diplomatic relations with both countries, with both Jordan and Israel, or to the extent that some direct negotiations with Syria might at some point occur, both Syria and Israel,” Shultz stressed.
But the Secretary reiterated that the basic U.S. position is that the Mideast conflict should be resolved “through direct negotiations between the parties involved,” as Israel and Egypt did.
“That basic peace treaty has remained through all of the ups and downs of the situation,” Shultz said. “It is there. It is a rock.”
Shultz said the next step is direct negotiations between Israel and Jordan which would include “appropriate Palestinians. There have to be Palestinian representatives if you are going to negotiate about something that affects Palestinian so much.”
ARMS SALES PROPOSED FOR ARAB COUNTRIES
In his “Worldnet” interview, Shultz indicated that the U.S. would propose arms sales for Arab countries, although he did not say which ones. “I think that as you look at the situation in the Middle East and particularly in the (Persian) Gulf, at least I take comfort from the fact that we have been able to help our friends, such as Saudi Arabia, to provide themselves with better equipment and learning how to use that equipment in their self-defense,” he said.
It was reported later that the Administration had notified Congress last week that it plans to sell Egypt 40 F-16C and F-16D planes at a cost of $1.3 billion and 12 F-16 fighters to Bahrain for $400 million. This is the first time the highly-sophisticated F-16 has been sold to the Persian Gulf emirate.
Meanwhile, the State Department is assessing the results of the recent trip to the Mideast by Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. In visits to Jordan and Egypt, Murphy found continued insistence on an international conference.
The January 30 Bulletin was inadvertently misnumbered. It should have been No. 20, not 19.