Middle East Diplomacy

May 16, 1975

Report Outline
Involved Process of Negotiations
Intangibles in Arab-Israeli Conflict
Foundations for Overcoming Enmity
Special Focus

Involved Process of Negotiations

Cyrrent Situation for Ford's Talks With Sadat

Middle east diplomacy, apparently stalled since Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger returned home in March from his latest round of shuttle negotiations, takes a new turn next month when President Ford meets Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, in Salzburg, Austria, and then receives Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin in Washington. Although Ford insists that these talks do not “represent the beginnings of a new American-led negotiation in the Middle East,” they are being regarded with intense interest by all parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including Russia. Indeed, since the 1973 war in the Middle East, the United States in the person of Secretary Kissinger has been the initiating force in negotiations to bring about a peace settlement.

The latest round of talks, from which Kissinger returned empty handed, focused attention on Gidi and Mitla, mountain passes in the Sinai desert, and on distinctions between “non-use of force” and “non-belligerency.” Such issues raise the question whether the prevention of another war in the Middle East—conceivably a nuclear war—really hinges on geographic obscurities and verbal hairsplitting.

The reduction of the Arab-Israeli conflict to haggling over details was, in fact, central to Kissinger's “step-by-step” strategy. He hoped that diminishing the issues under discussion would increase the chances of agreement. Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy had already secured two limited agreements, military disengagements between Egypt and Israel and between Syria and Israel.

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