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Wiggins Optimistic About Progress of Jarring Mission, Cites Exchanges

Using a phrase expressed here several weeks ago by Secretary of State Dean Rusk, the United States Ambassador to the UN said today the Middle East peace-making efforts of Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring have achieved “precious momentum.”

In an optimistic mood, J.R. Wiggins told the press that Dr. Jarring, the UN’s special Middle East peace envoy, was discouraged when the current General Assembly session opened, but added, “I think he has achieved enough progress now to give all of us some hope. He has certainly succeeded in obtaining exchanges (of statements) from the principals involved. This in itself is an augury of progress, entitling one to hope for greater future progress.” Asked whether a successful conclusion of the mission would be reached within a matter of weeks or months, Mr. Wiggins replied. “The immediate problem is to keep the parties in communication with Dr. Jarring. The object here is not mere cessation of hostilities but the laying of a foundation for a lasting peace.” He said that no other issue on the Assembly agenda had occupied as much of his time and that of his colleagues as the Middle East settlement had.

He told reporters, in his first press conference since succeeding George Ball as Washington’s representative, that the current State Department talks with Israel for the sale of F-4 Phantom supersonic fighter-bombers had no bearing on the Jarring mission.

In a related development, informed sources said today that, contrary to earlier reports, the Egyptian Government has not demanded that Israel apologize for her “aggression” in 1967.

The demand for an apology in a letter presented to Dr. Jarring by Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad, well-informed sources said, does not exist – the word “apologize” did not appear in the document.

Rather, this was a Western interpretation put on a Cairo demand for Israel to withdraw to boundaries that existed before the Six-Day War and before Israeli “aggression.” This is regarded by certain diplomatic circles as being worse than a demand for an “apology” in that Israel is being asked to “confess its guilt for a ‘crime’ it did not commit.”

The Riad document was a reply to one presented to Dr. Jarring by Foreign Minister Abba Eban of Israel.

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