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Kissinger Indicates Arab-israeli Peace Talks to Begin Within Next Few Weeks

November 21, 1973
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Arab-Israeli peace talks will begin within the next few weeks, presumably in mid-December, in Geneva but what the United States role will be and how far it will go toward insuring security arrangements for nations in the area remain fluid. These conclusions were indicated today by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger after he met for nearly three hours with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee behind closed doors at the Capital. “We do not have a specific plan but a number of principles,” Kissinger said to newsmen while standing beside J.W. Fulbright (D.Ark.) committee chairman. However, he refused to discuss the principles. Besides noting that the discussion with the Senators included the cease-fire and “where we hope to go in the peace negotiations,” and “where we could go,” Kissinger deferred for the most part on newsmen’s questions to Fulbright.

However, Kissinger said he would discuss the Middle East situation in greater detail at a news conference “soon.” He had tentatively scheduled to meet the media this afternoon at the State Department regarding his recent 12-day trip that took him to 10 countries, including five Arab nations, China and Japan. The results of this trip and the Nixon Administration’s foreign policy position were the reasons for his meeting with the Senate committee. Fulbright and other Foreign Relations Committee members at today’s session indicated that the discussions were general in nature and that the first United States objective, is to tighten the cease-fire and then help bring about Arab-Israeli peace talks.

“Oil of course was discussed,” Fulbright said, but neither he nor others would go into detail about the Arab boycott. Fulbright said “the prospects are better now for settlement than in the last 30 years” but that a settlement “will take time.” He indicated that the thrust of Kissinger’s presentation was that Security Council Resolution 242 was the basis for a settlement but that it was not necessarily the final position for the United States.

Fulbright observed that Israel agreed to the 1967 UN resolution. “The security of Israel is the main objective,” he said, but “the United States does not guarantee its expansion.” A U.S. security guarantee for Israel “is one ingredient of a settlement,” Fulbright said. He emphasized that Soviet-American detente was “fundamental” to the peace of the area. The committee, he said, took no “collective action” on “an equitable settlement” on where the Israel-Arab borders should be. “The basic objective,” he said, is that “armed forces should not be relied on and that peace would have to be agreed upon.”


Questioned by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Fulbright said that the current situation “is intolerable” for Israel because “Its principal objective is physical and political existence.” He said that Libya and Iraq “still have reservations” about Israel’s existence but “I understand Egypt and Jordan, and I think it is true of Syria and Saudi Arabia, agree that Israel is not to be destroyed.” Noting that “We are” for Israel’s survival, Fulbright, a long-time opponent of Israeli policy and U.S. military policy toward Israel, spoke favorably of a return by the U.S. “in general terms” to the plan of former Secretary of State William P. Rogers that called for “insubstantial alteration” of Israel’s borders. Fulbright stressed that U.S. guarantees for security in the Middle East would include both Israel and its Arab neighbors. In this connection, he said, a UN peace-keeping force would have an important role there for the next 10 years.

Hinting at possible disagreement with Kissinger, Fulbright told the JTA that in his own view, and specifically excluding Kissinger from that view, the Security Council should determine the future of Jerusalem. “The members are all interested in Jerusalem,” he said, adding, “perhaps it is too emotional for them.” Sen. Clifford Case (R.N.J.), among the half dozen Senators questioned by newsmen, said Kissinger did not offer a peace plan to the Foreign Relations Committee but outlined “a matter of procedure for both sides to be brought together to negotiate.” Asked by the JTA if he left the meeting in an optimistic frame of mind. Case said: “We have got to be optimistic because Egypt, Syria and Israel are willing to talk for the first time.”

Tomorrow morning Kissinger goes before the Senate Armed Services Committee in another closed meeting, probably to discuss the Administration’s position regarding the $2.2 billion appropriation it has requested to pay for re-supplying Israel for equipment lost in the Yom Kippur War. A principal point in this issue is whether President Nixon or the Congress should determine what parts of this appropriation should be given to Israel as a loan and as a gift. The President seeks full control of the funds, it was said, to use as a lever against Israel in the peace negotiations to come. The news conference for this afternoon was cancelled because Kissinger suddenly scheduled a meeting for the same time with representatives of major American oil companies with vast interests in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, which has embargoed oil shipments to the U.S. and is moving toward taking control of their investments in Saudi Arabia.

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