U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair: Too Early to Discuss Peacekeeping

Gen. John Shalikashvili, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this week that it is premature to discuss sending American troops to the Golan Heights to act as peacekeepers between Israel and Syria.

However, Shalikashvili said during his visit here that “the United States has always supported the peace process,” and that when the time comes to speak about the specifics of any Israeli-Syrian peace settlement, “you can be sure that the United States will do so as it has in the past.”

Shalikashvili spoke to reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Tuesday at the conclusion of his two-day visit tow Israel.

During their meeting, Rabin reiterated his position that Israel would need American troops on the Golan to ensure that any peace treaty with Syria would be respected, adding that the forces would not be sent there to protect Israel’s borders.

“When a peace agreement is achieved with Syria, we will need American soldiers to oversee the implementation of the military annex of the agreement,” Rabin said in a statement.

After meeting with Rabin, the Polish-born general toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

Shalikashvili was born in Poland and is the son of a man who served in a unit from the Soviet republic of Georgia that was attached to Nazi forces fighting the Allies during World War II.

He told reporters that his past lent significance to his visit to Yad Vashem. Cognizant of this past, he said, he hoped “that here in this place peace can be built.”

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