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Eban Says Big Four Talks on Mideast Have Not Made Progress

Foreign Minister Abba Eban said today that information at the disposal of the Israel Government showed that no progress has been achieved at the Four Power talks on the Mideast going on in New York. He said Israel would continue to impress upon the U.S. Government its view that direct Arab-Israeli talks are the only way to settle the conflict. Mr. Eban spoke at a press conference on the eve of his departure for East Africa to visit Ethiopia. Kenya and Uganda at the invitations of their Governments.

He said that information received by Israel through diplomatic channels confirmed reports that the latest Soviet reply to U.S. Mideast proposals faithfully reflected the joint Gromyko-Nasser communique. That document, Mr. Eban noted, demanded Israel’s withdrawal to the armistice lines that existed before the June, 1967 war and made no mention of points raised by the U.S. and Israel such as a just and lasting peace, direct negotiations at some stage, secure and agreed boundaries, free Suez Canal navigation, an international settlement of the refugee problem, and recognition of the Straits of Tiran as an international waterway.

Mr. Eban said the reported failure of the Four Power talks was compounded by the negative results they have produced–new flare-ups along the cease-fire lines by which the Arabs seek to create an artificial sense of urgency. Referring to his East Africa trip, Mr. Eban voiced hope that Ethiopia will soon appoint an ambassador to Israel. He observed that since the re-opening of the Tiran Straits in June, 1967, Israel’s trade with East Africa has increased considerably. He said Israel’s interest in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda is demonstrated by the presence in those countries of hundreds of Israeli experts who advise them on agriculture, building, administration and other subjects. Asked to comment on the recent French election, Mr. Eban said Israel was waiting for President Georges Pompidou to announce how and when France’s “dialogue” with Israel can be resumed.

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