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Reagan says Kissinger victim of 'stereotypes'

By ROBERT MACKAY   |   July 27, 1983

WASHINGTON -- President Reagan, who harshly criticized Henry Kissinger during the 1976 presidential campaign, now says the former secretary of state is the victim of unjust stereotypes.

At a nationally broadcast news conference Tuesday night, Reagan was asked if he had looked into charges that Kissinger, who was secretary of state during the Nixon administration, promoted the overthrow of the government of Chile.

'I think there are some stereotypes about Mr. Kissinger that a little actual reading and rereading of the history would indicate that those stereotypes are not necessarily valid,' the president replied.

Reagan appointed Kissinger last week to head a presidential commission to study the problems of Central America and to recommend solutions.

A military junta seized power in Chile in 1973 from President Salvador Allende. Allegations have repeatedly surfaced that Kissinger and the Nixon administration covertly aided the junta's coup.

Earlier, Kissinger was asked on NBC's 'Today' program about the harsh criticism Reagan leveled at him during the 1976 campaign and what his appointment means.

'I suppose it proves that even candidate Reagan cannot be right 100 percent of the time,' Kissinger said.

Kissinger discussed the role of his Central America study group with congressional leaders Tuesday and said no Vietnam-type commitment of U.S. troops in the troubled region will be necessary 'from all that I've seen.'

The former secretary of state said lawmakers expressed their concerns to him about Reagan's policy of making a military show of force. But he stressed his 12-member presidential commission will seek only long-term solutions to Latin America's problems and will not get involved in the administration's immediate plans.

Kissinger dodged a specific question of whether he supports Reagan's move to station U.S. naval ships off Nicaragua's coasts and send U.S. troops into Honduras for five months of maneuvers. At one point, as many as 4,000 American troops will be involved in the ground exercises.

'The decision to undertake this preceded my appointment,' Kissinger told reporters in his best diplomatic manner.

Kissinger was asked earlier on the CBS 'Morning News' program if American troops will be needed to block the communist subversion Reagan sees as a threat to U.S. security.

'I hope that that point will not be reached and, from all that I've seen, that point will not be reached,' he said.

But 'if there were Soviet bases' established in the region, the United States would have to act forcefully, he added.

Kissinger rejected suggestions the rapidly developing U.S. involvement in the region means his commission's report, expected in about six months, will come too late to make a difference.

'The recommendations will be relevant,' he said.