WASHINGTON (Jun. 25)
Soviet and Arab diplomats have told the United States that Israel must withdraw to the armistice lines that existed before the June, 1967 war as the price for a Middle East settlement, it was learned from reliable sources today. The Soviet charge d’affaires, Yuri Tcherniakov, told Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Joseph Sisco, that Israel must make a phased withdrawal from the occupied territories in order to bring about tacit Arab recognition of Israel, international guarantees of Israeli shipping rights, and a return of United Nations peace-keeping forces to Sharm El Sheikh and other strategic points, the sources said.
Mr. Tcherniakov was summoned to the State Department yesterday as U.S. concern mounted over the recent escalation of violence in the Middle East. The meeting was described by the department as a continuation of the bilateral Soviet-American talks on the Mideast that Mr. Sisco has been conducting with the Soviet Ambassador. Anatoly F. Dobrynin. The Soviet reply to the latest American proposals on the Middle East crisis was not disclosed. But informed sources said it reflected the contents of the joint communique issued in Cairo June 13 by Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei F. Gromyko and President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt after three days of consultation between them. Mr. Gromyko reportedly brought U.S. proposals to Col. Nasser who rejected them and reportedly told the Soviet diplomat that Egypt insists on the unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces from all territories occupied in the 1967 war.
Jordanian diplomats reportedly notified the State Department today that Jordan was asking the Security Council to “debate and act against Israel’s efforts to annex East Jerusalem.” King Hussein reportedly informed the U.S. Ambassador in Amman that Jordan expected American support in pressuring Israel to withdraw.
(Communist diplomatic sources in London today confirmed reports of a hardened Soviet-Arab line on the Mideast. They said the USSR and Egypt have rejected an American proposal that would have permitted Israel to retain the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. They said Moscow rejected any Arab territorial concessions and insisted on a total Israeli withdrawal to the pre-June, 1967 lines.
(In return, according to the Soviet plan, the Arabs would recognize Israel, Israel would be granted free navigation through the Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba, and a Four Power guarantee would protect the security of all Mideast nations. The Soviet plan was said to have emerged from the Gromyko-Nasser talks. According to the sources, the plan also provided for an international peace-keeping force to be provided by the Big Powers or by the United Nations.)
Washington Post staff writer A. D. Home reported today that some U.S. officials have discerned certain changes of position and indications of flexibility in the Soviet reply to American Mideast proposals. Mr. Horne wrote that the officials believe the Soviet reply, presented to Secretary of State William P. Rogers on June 17. “goes beyond any previous Soviet note on a number of specific points. It is being studied for signs of “bargaining room” that Mr. Gromyko may have won from President Nasser, Mr. Horne said. He reported that the Soviet reply agreed to a phased Israeli withdrawal matched stage-by-stage by Arab political concessions and that while it spoke of final boundaries based on those that existed before the 1967 war, “the language used is more flexible than before.”
(Cairo Radio denounced President Richard M. Nixon this week for inviting Israeli Premier Golda Meir to Washington and charged that the Nixon Administration’s Mideast policy was “clearly Zionist” in character.)