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Richard Nixon Administration: Announcement of Middle East Nations Acceptance of U.S. Cease-Fire Proposal

(July 31, 1970)

Ladies and gentlemen:

As you know, the Secretary of State and I have been meeting for the past two hours and a half on various foreign policy matters, but particularly concentrating on the problems of the Mideast. The Secretary has made a report to me on the latest developments, and I have a prepared statement which will be issued to all of you immediately after this statement.

With regard to the developments in the Mideast, as you know, on June 25th the Secretary announced that the United States was undertaking a major political initiative, and our objective was to encourage the parties to the conflict to stop shooting and to start talking under the auspices of United Nations Ambassador Jarring1 in accordance with the pertinent resolutions of the U.N. Security Council.

1Gunnar Jarring, Sweden's Ambassador to the Soviet Union, was Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations to the Middle East.

The Israeli Government is now in the process of drafting its detailed reply to the United States. However, I am pleased to say that we have been informed by the Government of Israel of the cabinet vote to accept the United States proposal, and I am gratified that now all three governments to whom we addressed our initiative have responded positively and accepted the U.S. proposal.

We do not underestimate the difficulties which still lie ahead. The acceptance of the U.S. proposal by the governments principally concerned, important as it is, is only a first step. It will require moderation, flexibility, and a willingness by both sides to accept something less than their maximum position if progress toward a just and lasting peace between the parties is to be made. But the cease-fire and the negotiations that now seem within reach are an essential beginning.

In this connection I want to reiterate one point, a point that I made last night in my press conference. It is an integral part of our cease-fire proposal that neither side is to use the cease-fire period to improve its military position in the area of the cease-fire lines. All would have to refrain from emplacing new missiles or other installations and from undertaking a military buildup of any kind in such an area.

For our part, we have been engaged since early 1969 in cooperative efforts with the Governments of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France to help move the Middle East conflict toward a peaceful settlement. We expect these efforts to continue. We firmly believe, however, that the focus of future efforts must be on the parties directly concerned under the auspices of Ambassador Jarring's mission. We wish him and the parties well in their efforts, and we stand ready to help whenever and wherever we can.

In that connection, in the same area, we have made two appointments to ambassadorial positions today, two of our most distinguished and able Ambassadors. To Jordan, Mr. Dean Brown, and to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Nicholas Thacher.

I will say finally, that I believe that all of those who have worked on this initiative within our own Government and particularly those in the State Department, deserve a great deal of credit for the progress that has been made.

As we have indicated, we still have a long way to go before we achieve the results that we hope can be achieved. But in a situation where a year and a half ago there seemed to be no hope, there now appears some hope--some hope that a peaceful settlement can be arrived at.

Sources: Public Papers of the President