The United States will not submit to pressure of any kind nor establish artificial deadlines in the current round of Middle East peace negotiations, U.S. special mediator Robert Strauss said yesterday.
The statements by Strauss, in his first public address since being named President Carter's representative to the Middle East negotiations four months ago, came as prospects dimmed for Palestine Liberation Organization contacts with the United States and participation in the U.S.-sponsored peace process.
Resolutions adopted Sunday by the Palestine Central Council, the PLO's policy-making body, at a meeting in Damascus, Syria, appeared to mark a sharp setback for efforts to reach a Middle East formula acceptable both to the PLO and the United States.
The council, in a nine-hour meeting, rejected any United Nations resolution that does not call clearly for an independent Palestinian state.
The United States has taken the position, stated most directly by State Department spokesman Thomas Reston yesterday, of threatening to veto any U.N. resolution providing for such an independent state. There was no official U.S. comment on the PLO action.
Reston noted that President Carter had restated U.S. opposition to an independent Palestinian state late last week. Reston identified U.S. disagreement on this issue as the reason for last week's threat to veto new diplomatic language on pending Middle East issues that was prepared by the Kuwait delegation to the United Nations.
Strauss' address to the convention of the American Bar Association in his home town of Dallas, gave no encouragement to the possibility of a negotiated compromise on the Palestinian issue at a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss it starting Aug. 23.
Strauss described his mandate as U.N. Resolution 242 and 338, the basic framework for a Middle East peace proposal, and the Camp David accords, "in their entirety unchanged." He said that "changing or diluting" the U.N. resolutions would go against the interests of all involved.
His rejection of "pressure of any kind" was described by informed officials as a response to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat's public statements that the "oil weapon" wielded by Arab nations backs the PLO position.
In rejecting any "artificial deadline" that goes beyond the timetable of the Camp David agreements, Strauss appeared to be addressing reports earlier this month that Arab nations might cut back oil production if they feel there is insufficient progress this fall toward a Palestinian solution.
At the same time, Strauss denied that the United States rejects or is insensitive to "the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people." Strauss said the United States is working hard to create "a self-governing authority" for the Palestinians.
"The solution to the Palestinian problem, with the cycle of terrorism, violence and destruction it has caused it not only morally essential, but...indispensable to enduring peace and stability in the Middle East," Strauss said.
Strauss will travel to Egypt and Israel to discuss the peace issues on a three-day visit starting Thursday, the State Department announced. This schedule will bring him back to Washington before the start of the U.N. debate on the Middle East peace issues next week. Strauss plans a longer trip to the area next month.
While Strauss travels to Jerusalem Thursday, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Yigael Yadin will be starting a 10-day trip to the United States. Yadin's mission was described yesterday more as a public relations venture with the American Jewish community and U.S. media than a negotiating trip or urgent mission. State Department spokesman Reston said yesterday that there are no plans for Yadin to come to Washington.
The State Department, in answer to questions, denied that any negotiations or substantive business were involved in a brief meeting last month between U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young and Zehdi Labib Terzi, the PLO observer at the United Nations.
Reston said Young and his six-year-old son had "dropped by" the home of the Kuwaiti ambassador by invitation and that Terzi unexpectedly showed up.
Young "observed the social amenities and departed as soon as convenient," about 15 minutes later, according to Reston. CAPTION: Picture, ROBERT STRAUSS...not encouraging to PLO