UNITED NATIONS, N.Y (Jun. 26)
The United States and the Soviet Union are close to agreement on formulas for the conduct of voluntary United Nations peace-keeping activities, it was learned here today. The agreement may find its most immediate application in the Middle East.
According to informed sources, the negotiations are all but complete on observer missions such as the 90-man UN Truce Supervision Organization now in the Middle East. Agreement on non-punitive peace-keeping operations such as the seven-nation military force on Cyprus may take longer. Officially the negotiating is being done by a working group of eight nations but the key talks since last fall have been held between United States Ambassador Maxwell Finger and Soviet Ambassador Lev Mendelevich. Ambassador Francisco Cuervas Cancino, of Mexico, chairman of the UN’s 33-nation Peacekeeping Committee, told that body yesterday that negotiations on the formula “are in a somewhat advanced stage.”
Agreement between the two major powers would have a direct impact on possible UN peacekeeping action related to a Middle East settlement. The return of UN peace-keeping forces to that area is known to have been proposed in the current Four Power Mideast talks in New York and the U.S.-Soviet talks on the same subject going on in Washington. A UN peace-keeping force stationed in the Middle East after the 1956 Suez crisis was withdrawn by Secretary-General U Thant in May, 1967 at the request of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. Mr. Thant’s action was widely criticized as one of the immediate causes of the Six-Day War.
In the present U.S.-Soviet negotiations, the Russians have reportedly been willing to consider voluntary peace-keeping operations in contrast to their previous insistence on actions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which prescribes enforcement actions of a punitive nature by the Security Council. A Western source said today that the Soviets believe a new UN peace-keeping force in the Middle East would be helpful “and they see that in the Middle East it would be impossible to define it as a punitive expedition.”
The U.S. reportedly facilitated an agreement with Russia on a peace-keeping formula by backing away from its previous stress on the independent initiative of the secretary-general. This concession reportedly reflected American disillusionment with that it considered the one-sided role of Mr. Thant in the Vietnam war.