WASHINGTON (Jan. 17)
Secretary of State-designate James Baker III made clear Tuesday that the incoming Bush administration is opposed to a separate Palestinian state, despite the dialogue the United States has opened with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Baker outlined his position in an opening statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which began hearings on his confirmation as secretary of state three days before George Bush is to be inaugurated as president.
Baker stressed that the Bush administration will continue the Reagan administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East.
“The existence of the dialogue (with the PLO) should not lead anyone to misunderstand our overall policy or question our enduring support for the State of Israel,” he said.
“Nor have we altered our belief that an independent Palestinian state will not be a source of stability or contribute to a just and enduring peace,” he said.
Baker also said Tuesday that the Bush administration would continue the efforts of the outgoing administration in seeking to bring about peace in the Middle East.
“Today the rocks are flying and the blood is flowing between the Palestinians and Israelis in the areas under Israeli military administration,” he said.
“We are determined to build upon the achievements of our predecessors in changing that situation, which must be the foundation of a secure peace.”
In discussing the Soviet Union, Baker said that the new administration will continue to press the Soviet Union on human rights issues.
“And human rights means full compliance with the Helsinki accords,” he said. “There can be no relaxation of our standards on this issue,” he said.
Throughout his testimony Tuesday morning, Baker stressed that he would work for a bipartisan foreign policy and made an appeal “for a kinder and gentler Congress” to work with him.