NEW ORLEANS (Aug. 18)
Secretary of State George Shultz told a Jewish audience here Wednesday that he is certain a Middle East peace can be achieved if only Israel and the Arab countries were to begin direct negotiations.
“I feel it in my bones from talking with people of all shades of opinions in Israel and in Arab countries, that if we can ever get there, to honest-to-goodness, good-faith negotiations, there is an answer there to be found,” he said.
Shultz spoke at a reception for present and former members of President Reagan’s cabinet, sponsored by the National Jewish Coalition.
The secretary said “peace will only come through direct negotiations,” although he conceded he has still not found a way to bring it about.
“But we have to be willing to try all kinds of ways to get to direct negotiations,” Shultz said.
“It may be that we have to pass through an international conference, as long as it’s the right kind of international conference,” he said. “It may be that we don’t have to do that.”
There are many different ideas for bringing about negotiations,” Shultz said. “But the ideas that will work are the ideas that the parties directly involved find for themselves,” he stressed.
Shultz offered his own proposals, which he first enunciated last spring and for which he has made four unsuccessful trips to the Middle East this year.
First, he said, was to begin a period of transition for the West Bank and Gaza Strip immediately, and then to start soon afterwards with the final status negotiations.
“It is important to keep working, to keep thinking and to stay involved and engaged in the process, as we have been in the United States and I am sure we will continue to be,” Shultz said.
Shultz expressed appreciation “for all of the help, advice, arguments and good discussions we have had back and forth.”
He said the “friendship and the warmth I feel for you is very deep and is one of the things I will carry away from this role as secretary of state and will cherish all my life.”