UN Welcomes Report That Nixon Favors Big Four Meetings on Mideast Tensions

The United Nations has not been informed of any plans for a Four Power meeting on the Mideast situation but will be prepared to place all necessary facilities at the disposal of the conference, a UN spokesman announced today. Speculation at the UN head quarters was that such a meeting probably would not be held before the middle of February, because of the absence of Lord Caradon, the British Permanent Representative here. He was due to return Feb. 12 from London.

With Secretary-General U Thant in Ethiopia today, there was no comment here on Washington reports that the United States National Security Council had decided on American participation in Four Power talks on the Mideast within the framework of the UN Security Council and terms of reference of its Nov. 22, 1967 resolution. There was considerable gratification here at the stress in Washington reports on the projected role of the UN and the U.S. intention to channel efforts at a solution through the UN.

A spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the UN, when asked today about the Nixon position on Four Power talks, called press reports “premature.” He declined to explain further.

There was no indication today whether Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring, Mr. Thant’s special envoy for the Mideast, would be available here if these talks were held later this month. Dr. Jarring was expected to return to his Moscow post as Sweden’s Ambassador there soon after Mr. Thant’s return here on Thursday.

It was disclosed today that the president of the last General Assembly, Emilio Arenales, had not yet appointed the three-nation committee which by General Assembly directive is to study the status of the civilian population in the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War.

U.S. PREPARING NOTE TO NASSER SEEN AS LEADING TO RESUMED RELATIONS

President Richard M. Nixon, after consulting over the week-end with his top advisors in the National Security Council, decided to accept the French proposal for Four Power talks at the UN. Mr. Nixon was said to have instructed the State Department to reply affirmatively to the French proposal. He was also understood to be preparing a cordial letter to President Gamal Abdel Nasser, of Egypt, which was seen as opening the way for the resumption of diplomatic relations between Washington and Cairo. Relations were severed by Cairo during the June, 1967 Six-Day War when Col. Nasser accused the United States and Britain of sending aircraft to help Israel. The Egyptian leader retracted the charges in an interview with Look Magazine, though it was false. His retraction was never published in Egypt. The new Nixon letter, which will be in reply to one from Col. Nasser congratulating the President on his inauguration, would, it was said here, allow the Egyptian President to take the initiative in resuming diplomatic ties without retracting his June, 1967 charges.

Mr. Nixon’s acceptance of the principle of Four Power talks was viewed as a departure from the stand of the Johnson Administration which held that a durable settlement of the Middle East conflict had to come from within the region. But the Nixon Administration was clearly opposed to the concept of a Middle East settlement imposed by the Big Powers. The President was said to have found merit in the French plan to hold discussions within the UN between the Permanent Representatives of the Big Four which are, along with Nationalist China, permanent members of the Security Council.

The U.S. views the Four Power talks as a means of reinforcing the peace-seeking mission of Dr. Jarring and will stress this in its reply to France. Dr. Jarring does not consider the terms of his mandate from the Security Council to permit him to advance any peace plans of his own.

It was expected that the U.S. will suggest “consultations” instead of a formal “conference” among the Big Four UN representatives in order to dispel the idea that an imposed settlement–opposed by Israel–was in the making. The Nixon Administration was also said to have found merit in that part of the Soviet Middle East peace proposal of Dec. 30, 1968 which would have the Arabs and Israelis communicate at first through Dr. Jarring. The Arabs have refused to meet face to face with Israel. Like the Johnson Administration, the Nixon Administration believes that Israel cannot be made to give up the territories it won in June, 1967 without firm assurances of a lasting peace. Mr. Nixon has, therefore, reportedly decided that there should be an iron-clad contractual agreement of some sort between the disputing parties as part of any settlement.

Israel’s Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin met today at the State Department with Elliot L. Richardson, the new Under-Secretary of State. It is believed that Ambassador Rabin sought clarification of the emerging U.S. policy.

(Premier Levi Eshkol of Israel was reported to have urged President Nixon, in a personal message, to oppose any Mideast settlement imposed by the Major Powers. Mr. Eshkol reportedly asked the President to stand firm for direct Arab-Israeli negotiations for peace and stressed that Israel could not accept a settlement imposed by the Super-Powers. Official sources said it was delivered prior to last Saturday’s meeting of the President with his top advisors.)

In Philadelphia, Sen. Hugh Scott, of Pennsylvania, assistant Republican floor leader of the Senate, said today that President Nixon’s initiative for Arab-Israel peace “should not be interpreted as an effort to impose a settlement” that Israel cannot accept. He called on the Administration to “reject the efforts of the Russians and the French to write U.S. policy” on Israel. He told the Cardozo Lodge of B’rith Sholom here that he was “confident that President Nixon knows full well that the only lasting settlement must be one to which Israel and the Arab states freely subscribe.”

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