UNITED NATIONS, N.Y (Mar. 9)
Dealt another blow by the weekend Israeli-Egyptian fighting at the Suez Canal, the pursuit of a Mideast settlement continued haltingly this weekend on several fronts.
Secretary-General U Thant’s special Mideast representative, Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring conferred with Foreign Minister Abba Eban in Jerusalem, and Acting Premier, Yigal Allon. He was believed to have been asked to resume his efforts to bring the Arabs and Israel together for direct negotiations. Jordan Radio said Premier Bahjat al-Talhouni told Dr. Jarring on Saturday that it did not have “anything new” to offer in his pursuit of a peace formula. He had visited Cairo earlier in the week.
Diplomatic sources in London reported that American and Soviet envoys in Washington, at the UN and in Moscow were meeting to arrange a possible spring or early summer summit conference between President Richard M. Nixon and Soviet leaders. The Mideast was widely expected to be considered as part of the agenda of a projected summit.
In Washington, Secretary of State William P. Rogers and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin met yesterday to re-open talks on the Mideast and other important East-West problems. Informed sources said the major topic discussed was the continuing effort to find a basis for a Four Power approach to a Mideast settlement. The U.S. has been awaiting a Moscow response to clarifications sought by Washington about a Soviet formula.
Diplomats here expressed surprise over remarks made in South Carolina on Friday by a high-ranking UN diplomat that “thus far” preliminary bilateral talks among the U.S., Soviet Union, France and Britain “have not yet developed what seemed to us enough common ground to make a Four Power meeting useful, and we are concerned that a Four Power meeting should not simply end in a conspicuous display of disunity which would do more harm than no meeting at all.” Ambassador Seymour Maxwell Finger, a senior adviser to the U.S. Mission, was commenting on the bilateral talks being held here among the Four Powers during the past five weeks. His remarks contrasted with those of President Nixon who told a press conference last Tuesday that “we think we have made considerable progress during the past week. We are cautiously hopeful that we can make more progress and move to the Four Power talks very soon.”
The Arab League office in Cairo said that its foreign ministers would meet tomorrow to review the entire Mideast situation and might consider a Kuwait request for an Arab summit parley. Dr. Mahmoud Fawzi, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s personal envoy, began four days of talks in London with Prime Minister Harold Wilson and other leaders. Earlier, he had conferred in Paris with President Charles de Gaulle and Henry Cabot Lodge, chief U.S. negotiator at the Vietnam peace talks.
In Washington, the State Department denied a report in the semi-official Cairo newspaper Al Ahram that the U.S. was shipping 150 Patton M-48 tanks to Israel from West German U.S. army camps via Rotterdam. Al Ahram said Israel was trying to strengthen its armored forces with British Centurion and Chieftain tanks, German Leopard tanks and U.S. Pattons. The Cairo paper’s editor, Muhammed Hassanein Heikal, a Nasser confidant, said the Arab nations should attack first in the next Mideast war from several bases at once–from Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, This strategy, he said, would enable Soviet-built MIG jets to attack the heart of Israel and would force Israel to divide its troops among several fronts. He said the Arabs could win despite superior Israeli technology if they killed 10,000 Israelis in the first phase and continued the fighting for six to eight weeks, basing his statement on the assertion that Israel did not have resources for a prolonged war. He said the Egyptian front at the Suez Canal was so strong today that Israel could not penetrate it.