President Jimmy Carter of the United States says permanent peace in the Middle East will not come without dealing with the Palestinian issue.
SV: President Carter listening to reporters' question in Washington (silent)
CU: Carter speaking
CARTER: "Our immediate hope and gaol is that any of the peace moves made by Israel and Egypt would be acceptable to the moderate Arab leaders in the Middle East. Certainly, King Hussein in Jordan, certainly the Saudi Arabians. We have had good indications, in my personal visits, with President Assad that he wants to resolve the differences. Lebanon is heavily influenced, as you know, by Syrian presence there. The PLO have been completely negative.
They have not been cooperative at all, in spite of my own indirect invitation to them and the direct invitations by Sadat and Assad, by King Hussein, by King Khaled, Saudi Arabia, the PLO have refused to make any moves towards a peaceful attitude. They have completely rejected United Nations resolutions 242 and 338. They have refused to make a public acknowledgement that Israel has a right to exist, to exist in peace. So I think they have themselves removed the PLO, from any immediate prospect of participation in a peace discussion. But I certainly would not ascribe that sort of intransigence or negative attitude to any of the other parties who have been mentioned as possible participants. We want to be sure that at least moderate Palestinians are included in the discussions. And this is an attitude shared no only by myself but, also by Prime Minister Begin, President Sadat and others. So I think they are all major steps already having been taken to delineate those who are immediately eager to conclude a step towards peace, those like President Assad who wait a while and see what does occur, to see if the Golan Heights question can be resolved and so forth, and those who have in effect removed themselves from serious consideration like the PLO."
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Background: President Jimmy Carter of the United States says permanent peace in the Middle East will not come without dealing with the Palestinian issue. Speaking in Washington on Thursday (15 December), he said he was keeping in close contact with all Middle East leaders, especially President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, with whom he had been communicating several times a week. The President said the conference in Cairo which Israel, Egypt and the United States are attending was 'a good first step'. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was due to visit the White House on Friday (16 December) for talks in which he has said he would discuss some new ideas directly connected with the present peace moves.
Synopsis: Asked at a Press conference what role the United States would be playing in the region, President Carter replied that they would offer their services when needed but the basic responsibility for permanent peace was upon the nations involved.