JERUSALEM (Apr. 17)
The United Nation’s peace envoy to the Middle East, Ambassador Gunnar Jarring, met for 90 minutes yesterday with Foreign Minister Abba Eban in talks which some sources here had predicted would be crucial to the continuation of Dr. Jarring’s mission. As usual, no details were given but all indications are that the U.N. envoy will continue his efforts to bring the Arabs and Israelis together. Dr. Jarring was scheduled to go to Cairo today and is expected back in Jerusalem next week.
An official communique issued after the Jarring-Eban meeting said that their talks were not held in an atmosphere of a mission about to end. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that rumors in the press here and abroad that the mission had failed were “totally untrue” and that Dr. Jarring has not “given up.” The spokesman said that both sides agreed to impose a complete black-out on their talks, in line with the quiet diplomacy practiced by the late Secretary-General Dag Hammerskjold.
(An official Egyptian spokesman said in Cairo today that peace efforts by Dr. Jarring had made “zero” progress but that Egypt had not closed the door to a peaceful settlement with Israel. Dr. Jarring arrived in Cairo for talks with Foreign Minister Riad today. Commenting on the ‘progress’ of the Jarring mission, Egyptian press spokesman Hassan Elzayat said “We now have zero. There is nothing to report. The situation is exactly the same as it was before Jarring’s arrival here. He was not in a position to tell us that Israel has accepted or shown readiness to implement the Security Council resolution.” He asserted that Egypt is being “very careful not to close the door to a peaceful settlement.” and said “the alternative is very clear. It will not be surrender to Israel. It will be resistance and this could escalate into something else and we do not want that.”)
The visit of Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad to Moscow tomorrow aroused speculation that the Arabs would try to bring about the failure of the Jarring mission, provided they found a way to blame it on Israel. Riad will probably discuss with the Russians ways and means to bring this about in face of Dr. Jarring’s continued professions of optimism, it was said here. The Arabs are believed anxious to return the Middle East question to the United Nations, at the General Assembly’s spring session which opens in New York next week. Observers here said that there was little chance that Egypt at the present stage, would change its negative attitude towards Jarring’s efforts to bring Israel, Egypt and Jordan to a meeting under his auspices.
Israel has replied affirmatively to Jarring’s proposal for such a meeting and Jordan did not say “yes” but at the same time did not issue a flat “no” as did Cairo. Political sources here denied rumors that Jordan had proposed indirect talks with Israel at Geneva which Israel rejected because it insists on direct talks, with or without a third party present. Also flatly denied were rumors that Dr. Jarring had proposed the demilitarization of Israel-occupied Arab territories to follow an Israeli withdrawal. No territorial subjects have been raised by Jarring as yet, these sources said.