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Richard Nixon Administration: Remarks About Egyptian-Israeli Agreement on Disengagement of Forces

(January 17, 1974)

Ladies and gentlemen:

I have an announcement that I am sure will be welcome news, not only to all Americans but to people all over the world. The announcement has to do with the Mideast, and it is being made simultaneously at 3 o'clock Washington time in Cairo and in Jerusalem, as well as in Washington. The announcement is as follows:

In accordance with the decision of the Geneva Conference, the Governments of Egypt and Israel, with the assistance of the Government of the United States, have reached agreement on the disengagement and separation of their military forces. The agreement is scheduled to be signed by the Chiefs of Staff of Egypt and Israel at noon Egypt-Israel time, Friday, January 18, at Kilometer 101 on the Cairo-Suez Road. The Commander of the United Nations Emergency Force, General Siilasvuo, has been asked by the parties to witness the signing.

A brief statement with regard to this announcement, I think, is in order.

First, congratulations should go to President Sadat, to Prime Minister Meir, and their colleagues for the very constructive spirit they have shown in reaching an agreement on the very difficult issues involved which made this announcement possible.

Also, we in the United States can be proud of the role that our Government has played, and particularly the role that has been played by Secretary Kissinger and his colleagues, in working to bring the parties together so that an agreement could be reached, which we have just read.

The other point that I would make is with regard to the significance of the agreement. In the past generation there have been, as we know, four wars in the Mideast, followed by uneasy truces. This, I would say, is the first significant step toward a permanent peace in the Mideast. I do not understate, by making the statement that I have just made, the difficulties that lie ahead in settling the differences that must be settled before a permanent peace is reached, not only here but between the other countries involved. But this is a very significant step reached directly as a result of negotiations between the two parties and, therefore, has, it seems to me, a great deal 'of meaning to all of us here in this country and around the world who recognize the importance of having peace in this part of the world.

The other point that I would make is with regard to the role of the United States. Our role has been one of being of assistance to both parties to bring them together, to help to narrow differences, working toward a fair and just settlement for all parties concerned, where every nation in that area will be able to live in peace and also to be secure insofar as its defense is concerned.

Looking to the situation in the world generally, I think that we could probably say that the area of the world that potentially is the one in which the great powers can be brought into confrontation is the Mideast, that that area more than any other is in that category, as recent events have indicated.

Now, the announcement we have made today is only a first step, but it is a very significant step. It paves the way for more steps which can lead to a permanent peace. And I personally shall see that all negotiations, any efforts which could lead to that permanent peace, not only between Egypt and Israel but between the other countries involved, have the full and complete support of the Government of the United States.

Thank you.

Sources: Public Papers of the President