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State Department Won’t Say Why U.S. Agreed to Postponement of Debate in UN on Palestinian Rights

August 1, 1979
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The State Department declined to elaborate today on the reasons why the United States agreed to the postponement of a UN Security Council debate on Palestinian rights and a related resolution, inspired by the Palestine Liberation Organization, which had been scheduled for a vote this week. “The U.S. took its own position and our policy in any case, ‘on dealing with the PLO remains unchanged,” the Department’s chief spokesman Hodding Carter said today. He added, “Our position on the specifics will be mode public in the course of the debate when it resumes.”

Carter could not supply any information about today’s meeting at the State Department between Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Israeli Ambassador Ephraim Evron and Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D. Conn.). He said he did not know what subjects they discussed.

The Security Council debate was postponed until Aug. 23 with the agreement of the U.S., the PLO and Kuwait which sponsored the resolution urging the Security Council to support the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Diplomatic sources at the UN told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency yesterday that the unusual cooperation between the U.S. and the PLO on that matter was the result of behind-the-scenes contacts between U.S. officials and the PLO.


However, Carter reiterated today that “We are not going to consider any change in our policy which has to do with our willingness to discuss matters with the PLO.” He said, “We continue to hope that the Palestinians will take part in the peace process; we must have such participation.” The U.S., he said, does discuss such matters with the Palestinians through its Consulates and representatives and obtains their views through the various countries that have contact with the Palestinians. But, he stressed, “the U.S. does not negotiate indirectly with the PLO.”

Carter also stressed that “There will be no change in our position on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 …. We believe that the resolutions are the lynchpins to the whole matter” of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. He appeared to be referring to recent reports in Israeli newspapers that the U.S. was contemplating an amendment to Resolution 242 which would make it more palatable to the Palestinians.

Carter was asked about a recent interview with, President Carter’s special envoy to the Middle East, Robert Strauss, in the magazine U.S. News-World Report in which Strauss was quoted as saying that within 60 to 90 days he expects moderate Palestinians to be taking part in the peace talks. The State Department spokesman replied, “The Ambassador (Strauss) is not careless with his remarks. If he has good reason to believe it, then there is an excellent prospect that it will happen.”

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