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Israel, UN Chief Deny Reports That Arab States Agreed to Negotiate with Israel

Israel has received no word that the Arab states are ready to start negotiations, an Israel Government spokesman declared in response to questions after today as Cabinet meeting. Reports that the Arab states had agreed to participate in negotiations with Israel under United Nations auspices had been current for some days in dispatches from correspondents at United Nations.

(Secretary-General U Thant, in an almost unprecedented action, sharply denied a widely-quoted New York Times report to the effect that Egypt and Jordan had agreed to meet directly with Israel to discuss a Middle East settlement under United Nations auspices. Mr. Tham said he had receive the indication of this. The Times report had also quoted UN secretariat members as expressing from the Arabs would be ready to meet Israelis in face-to-face talks under UN auspices.

(A note to correspondents issued by the UN Press Dept. yesterday quoted a self spokesmans “Opinions about the Middle East mission of Ambassador Gunnar Jarring attributed to ‘members of the Secretariat’ in a report published on 2 March 1968 are completely groundless.”

(Dr. Jarring continued his meetings over the weekend with UN officials, heads of the big power delegations and the mission heads of Israel and the Arab states. Among his meetings was one with Ambassador Yosef Tekoah of Israel.

(The UN envoy was understood to have received approval here of his reported intention to invite Israel and the Arab states to send delegations to his Cyprus headquarters and it was understood that on his return to Nicosia, which will be early in the week, he will act in this direction. It was stressed, however, that his dispatch of invitations did not necessarily involve any prior commitment to acceptance or agreement on procedures.)

The Israel Government spokesman also denied reports that members of the Cabinet had reservations on Foreign Minister Abba S. Eban’s statement last week that Israel would agree to participation of Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, the United Nations special envoy, in Arab-Israel peace talks. The spokesman declared that Mr. Eban’s statement “fully conforms” to the policy previously approved by the Cabinet.

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol spoke at length today on Israel’s desire for peace negotiations when he addressed a luncheon of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States who have been holding a conference here. He asserted Israel’s readiness to meet the Arabs and told the veterans: “We are making efforts to increase Israel’s deterrent capacity. We have learned that when the chips are down. Israel alone must defend herself.”

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