President Ford, in an unusual and angry statement that implied criticism of Israel, declared today that the United States would not compete with leaks in diplomacy affecting a Middle East settlement. His statement came as a result of an article in the New York Times today accompanied by maps which reported an Israeli offer of a compromise on the Sinai for a second-stage agreement with Egypt. The article by the Times Jerusalem correspondent, Terence Smith, said that Israel has offered Egypt a land corridor to the Abu Rodeis oilfields and an Israeli withdrawal from the western part of the Gidi and Mitle Passes in return for an Egyptian agreement not to resort to force for the next three to four years.
MAPS ‘INACCURATE,’ ‘MISLEADING’
Ford’s statement was issued by the State Department after it was asked to comment on the Times report. The statement said: “The President has asked the Department of State to state that we will not get into the business of competitive leaks of confidential diplomatic exchanges. The maps that appeared in the New York Times are inaccurate and highly misleading. We would caution anyone from drawing any conclusions from these press accounts. Finally, competitive leaks of confidential diplomatic exchanges makes negotiations extremely difficult.”
State Department spokesman Robert Anderson who read the statement at a special briefing was immediately asked whether the New York Times had done something detrimental or unpatriotic and replied he was not criticizing the newspaper. He said he would not get into a substantive discussion when a reporter asked how, if the report was misleading and inaccurate, could the leak be of a confidential nature. Asked if he was implying that the maps were inaccurate but not the report, Anderson said he was not making that implication and cautioned the press not to make it. Asked if the competition was between the Times and other news media or between the U.S. and Israel, Anderson said, “I leave that to your good judgement.” Asked if the competition was between Egypt and Israel, Anderson would not comment. But he observed, “I am saying obviously it is not journalistic competition.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.