WASHINGTON (Oct. 12)
The State Department denied today reports emanating from a leading Cairo newspaper that the United States and the Soviet Union had agreed to a four-point plan for United Nations mediation in the Arab-Israeli dispute, A Department spokesman said there had been no change in the American position since President Johnson’s statement on June 19 that “sooner or later, it is they (the Arabs and Israelis) who must make a settlement in the area.”
The Cairo newspaper Al Ahram had reported that the two great powers had agreed that direct Arab-Israeli talks were impossible; that a solution must come from the United Nations and Secretary-General U Thant; that the Secretary-General should name a representative to consult with both sides — but at U.N. headquarters, not in the Middle East; and that the Security Council should adopt a resolution to this effect without delay.
(The Al Ahram story was also denied at United Nations headquarters in New York where it was said that no agreement had been reached at the talks in Washington earlier this week between U.S. Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg and the Soviet envoy, Anatoly Dobrynin.)
Secretary of State Dean Rusk told a press conference today that the big powers were continuing consultations on the Middle East situation but stressed that, in the final analysis, peace rested with the people of the region. He said that the Israelis and Arabs should seek an urgent solution because “time is not working for a peaceful settlement.” He expressed disappointment over the Soviet response to American proposals for limitation of arms deliveries to the Middle East.
Discussing prospects for a solution emerging at the United Nations, the Secretary of State said “progress is possible” there, and noted that there were “private consultations” going on continuously with the countries of the Middle East, He pointed out that major differences were more likely to prevail among the countries of the area than between the great powers. “I hope,” he said, “that before too long, we find a formula for which we desperately hope.”
PLAN FOR SPECIAL ENVOY TO MIDDLE EAST REPORTEDLY PASHED AT U.N.
(At the United Nations, delegates reported that the Brazilian delegation was circulating a draft resolution on the Middle East for possible submission to the General Assembly, calling for appointment of a representative of the Secretary-General to be charged with negotiating between Israel and the Arab states on withdrawal of Israeli forces behind the June 4 armistice lines, the end of the state of belligerence claimed by the Arab states, freedom of passage through the Strait of Tiran and the Suez Canal, and other matters in dispute. Assembly President Corneliu Manescu, the Rumanian Foreign Minister, was reported in consultation today with delegation heads on the possibility of postponing the full-dress debate on the Middle East which is scheduled to begin next Monday.)
Mr. Rusk was asked today about the heavy arms shipments by the Soviet Union to the Arab states immediately following the Six-Day War in June. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol of Israel had been quoted in an interview with The New York Times today as having charged that the Soviet Union had already replaced 80 percent of the planes, tanks and artillery that Egypt had lost during the Six-Day War, and that Syrian arms were virtually at their prewar level. Mr. Eshkol said that the inflow of Soviet arms “has again upset the balance of power in the Middle East” and had made Israel’s position “more precarious.”
The Secretary of State declined to make any assessment of the Soviet arms shipments, but did say that some “significant supplies” had been sent into the area after the war. American diplomatic and defense officials said today that Mr. Eshkol’s estimates of the Soviet shipments to the Arabs appeared to be exaggerated. They asserted that Egypt had, at the most, received one-third of the tanks it had before the war and not more than two-thirds of the aircraft. The American experts also stressed that, regardless of the quantity of new equipment, Egypt needed much time to train a new army.