UNITED NATIONS, N.Y (May. 11)
The Soviet Union has called for strict observance by all sides of the UN cease-fire in the Middle East and has pledged to make “all efforts” to achieve a political settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute. The Soviet stand was stated in a letter presented by Soviet Ambassador Jacob Malik to Secretary-General U Thant, apparently in response to Mr. Thant’s April 21 warning to the Security Council that fighting in the Suez Canal zone amounted to virtually open war. Observers here considered the Soviet letter significant in that it omitted the usual invective against Israel and implied a rebuke to President Gamal Abdel Nasser of who has justified Egyptian military action at the canal on the grounds that Israel was fortifying the Canal’s east bank.
The Soviet note blamed Israel for “impeding” a settlement based on the Security Council’s Nov. 22,1967 resolution but did not spell out the Soviet-Arab interpretation of the resolution which is that Israel must withdraw from occupied territories before any other provisions are implemented. The letter rapped Israel for its opposition to the Four Power Mideast, talk’s now going on here and in which Mr. Malik is a participant.
The Washington Post reported that another Communist diplomat said that Egypt has privately reaffirmed its respect for the Suez cease-fire which President Nasser and other Egyptian spokesmen previously denounced. The Post also reported that the U.S. has asked the Soviet Union to use its influence with Syria to check Arab commando activities in Lebanon; the implied quid pro quo was that the U.S. would seek to restrain Israel from mounting reprisals against Lebanon for any guerrilla raids coming from its soil. The U.S. request was reportedly made by Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco at one of his meetings with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin.