Foreign Ministry Director-general Doubts That Progress Has Been Made by Big 4

Gideon Raphael, director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said today that in view of the known differences of views between the Soviet Union and the United States on procedures for a Middle East settlement, he doubted that any progress had been made in the Big Four talks now underway in New York. He thus expressed his doubts about the evaluation of “modest progress” in those talks made yesterday by Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco. Mr. Sisco, who has been conducting talks with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin, concurrently with the Big Four UN meetings, made the evaluation yesterday in an address to the national policy conference of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington. He did not elaborate on the nature or extent of the “progress.”

Mr. Raphael, speaking in a television interview, said that the Soviet stand was that Israel should take some steps which might lead to peace and that the U.S. view was that any such steps should be taken only after a peace treaty is reached between the parties. Since the U.S. also insists that a binding mutual obligation between the Arabs and Israel is what constitutes peace, he added, it was difficult to see what “modest progress” might have been made in the Big Four talks being conducted by the UN Ambassadors. He added that “modest” was a relative term and that the direction of the reported progress remained to be seen.

He suggested that, despite these differences, the Big Four might be unwilling to end their talks without some agreement formula. In that event, the diplomat said, he would suggest that they ask Israel and the Arabs to settle their differences in the internationally accepted way–by negotiations. He added that the Big Four might also express their continuing support of the mission of UN peace emissary Gunnar V. Jarring, which is currently in a state of suspension pending outcome of the Big Four meetings.

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