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State Dept, Agrees to Drop Anti-bias Clause in New Mutual Security Bill

June 30, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The State Department has agreed with Chairman J. W. Fulbright of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on elimination of a clause from the new Mutual Security bill aimed at Arab discrimination affecting Israel and American Jews. This was learned today from official sources.

Chairman Fulbright, Arkansas Democrat, concerned lest the Arab States take offense at the anti-bias expression, raised the matter in recent days with Phillips Talbot, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

Stressing the desire for improved Arab-American relations, Senator Fulbright discussed the clause with Mr. Talbot at a closed, “executive session” of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Fulbright said he could see no useful purpose in the anti-bias clause being retained in the bill. He obtained Mr. Talbot’s agreement on this.

Senator Fulbright questioned whether the clause was in the true national interest and indicated it might impede current efforts to improve United States relations with the Arab States.

Mr. Talbot explained that the clause, in Section 102 of the preamble to the aid bill, was not reflective of State Department thinking, but was submitted to Congress by President Kennedy to indicate Administration policy.

Senator Fulbright asked Mr. Talbot if the State Department considered the clause essential or if it could be removed without detriment to U.S. foreign policy objectives. Mr, Talbot agreed that it could be taken out without objection from his Department.

In Senator Fulbright’s view, the measure served no other purpose than to mollify internal political considerations detrimental to American objectives abroad.

The passage facing elimination was a declaration supporting “freedom of navigation in international waterways, and recognition of the right of all private persons to travel and pursue their lawful activities without discrimination as to race or religion. “

This was contained in a preamble to the operative parts of the bill and replaced a stronger anti-discrimination measure contained in the last Mutual Security Appropriations Act. It would replace Section 108 of legislation for the fiscal year ending June 30.

Section 108, adopted last year, was never implemented because the Executive Department, under both Administrations, did not see fit to use the authority provided. The section said “it is the sense of Congress that any attempt by foreign nations to create distinctions because of their race or religion among American citizens in the granting of personal or commercial access or any other rights otherwise available to U. S. citizens generally, is repugnant to our principles; and in all negotiations between the United States and foreign states arising as a result of funds appropriated under this title, these principles shall be applied as the President may determine.”

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