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U. N. Dissatisfied with Jordan’s Reply on Talks with Israel

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United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold was reported today to be in consultation with the American, British and other delegations at the UN in connection with a reply he received from the Jordan Government to Israel’s proposal for direct Israel-Jordan high level talks to review the armistice agreement.

Jordan’s reply suggested that such talks be conducted through the Mixed Armistice Commission. The text of the Jordan communication was withheld from publication by the UN Secretary General who is understood to feel that it is not a definitive answer. It is understood that he will pursue the matter further with the Jordan Government. Menaham Kidron, member of the Israel delegation, was received, meanwhile, by Mr. Hammarskjold.

It is understood that Mr. Hammarskjold was strongly advised not to release Jordan’s reply without some covering statement from himself as to the future course the UN was to follow in the light of Jordan’s position. It was stressed here by all quarters familiar with the situation that the Jordan reply could not technically be called a rejection of the Secretary General’s bid to a parley with Israel but an evasion.

U. S. VIEW CONSIDERED; U. N. PRESTIGE INVOLVED

The recent statement by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles at a press conference that he favored such a meeting and believed that it could be fruitful if good faith were shown by both participants, is understood to have had some weight with Mr. Hammarskjold, even though British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden has remained silent on the issue. It is generally recognized here that this is no longer a simple Israel-Jordan dispute, but a matter involving Jordan and the UN, with Israel on the sidelines.

UN prestige requires that the Secretary General bring Jordan to the conference table and the general impression in UN circles is that he will seek to use a number of means to accomplish this end. First, it is expected, will be another message to Jordan stressing its obligation to come to the parley. Second, and probably simultaneously with the first step, will be a move to get the United States and other willing powers to use their influence with Amman to secure assent. There was also talk here today of the possible dispatch of the Secretary General’s envoy to Amman to press the issue.

Should Jordan remain intransigeant, then the Secretary General could simply convene the conference on a specified date and summon both Israel and Jordan to attend. It is understood that the Israelis already have a tentative agenda prepared for submission to the parley.

If Jordan failed to obey the summons then the Secretary General would be justified in citing its failure to the Security Council as an action threatening peace. What action the Council could take beyond a resolution reprimanding Jordan and calling on it to obey the Secretary General is highly problematical.

The role of a defier of the UN might prove embarrassing to Jordan and its Arab League backers. Secretary Dulles, who only recently suspended U.S. aid to Israel because of Israel’s alleged defiance of the Security Council, would have an awkward time in not taking similar action against Jordan in such circumstances.

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