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Eban Discounts ‘peace Offensive,’ Sees No Change in Egyptian Intransigence

Foreign Minister Abba Eban today rejected notions of a “peace offensive” by Egypt, an alleged development that made headlines around the world during the past few days. Mr. Eban, in a report to the Cabinet on the current international political situation, said all available evidence indicated that Egypt’s stand was as intransigent as ever.

(In Moscow, Communist Party boss Leonid Brezhnev linked Israeli “aggression” in the Middle East with American “aggression” in Vietnam and West German “revanchism” and told graduates of Soviet military academies that all this demands that we retain vigilance and raise in every way the combat readiness of our troops.” He urged “peaceful settlement of ripe international problems” such as the Arab-Israeli dispute.)

(In Rome, Italy’s new Permier, Senator Giovanni Leone, outlining his program in a speech to the Italian Parliament, said Italy would continue to support the United Nations Nov. 22, 1967 resolution on the Middle East. Premier Leone declared the Arab countries and Israel had a duty to achieve peace. He said this would be possible when Egypt curtailed its “extermination” propaganda and when Israel faced with “realism and justice” the problem of her relations with the Arab governments. He added that the Middle East problem was of concern to Italy because of the tension it created in the Mediterranean area.)

Mr. Eban based his negative assessment on three recent developments which appear to have been, overshadowed by the “peace offensive” reports in the press. One, he said, was Egyptian President Nasser’s bellicose speeches in Moscow where he was feted by Kremlin leaders. Mr. Nasser used aggressive phrases, Mr. Eban asserted, and declared that “every inch of Arab soil must be liberated.” Another development, which he said was largely overlooked by the world press, was the joint statement issued by Mr. Nasser and the president of the Southern Yemen Republic on July 2, which described the “liquidation of the consequences” of the June, 1967 Arab-Israel war as only a first phase, after which would come the “liberation of Palestine,” Mr. Eban said. Finally, there was the official denial in Cairo yesterday of a remark attributed to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Riad, that Egypt recognized the “reality” of Israel’s existence. The latter remark, reportedly made by Mr. Riad at a press conference in Copenhagen, was originally reported by only one of the journalists present, the Reuters correspondent. The reporter has since backed down, saying he was “not sure,” that Mr. Riad had actually made the statement.

Mr. Eban said that in view of these factors, it is obvious that Egypt does not. at the present time, want to bring its 20-year-old dispute with Israel to an end. Israel, he said, will make these points clear before international bodies and in world capitals. Israel will also reiterate its readiness to meet with Egyptian representatives in order to try to change their negative policies, the Foreign Minister said. Mr. Eban reported further that Israel continues its willingness to cooperate with the United Nations peace envoy, Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, in his efforts to bring permanent peace to the Middle East.

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