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UN Secretary-general Says He Sees No Basis for Direct Arab-israel Talks at This Time

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In a press conference on the eve of the opening of the 24th General Assembly. Mr. Thant again endorsed the mission of his special Mideast representative, Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring, as an instrument for achieving peace. Dr. Jarring was due in New York tonight.

The Secretary-General cited the 1949 Rhodes negotiations that led to an armistice ending the 1948 war as a possible precedent for promoting Arab-Israel talks. He recalled that UN mediator Dr. Ralph Bunche arranged indirect discussions between the contending parties. At that time direct talks were held and agreement reached “at last,” he said, when there was a basis for them.

The Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 resolution, he recalled, did not refer to direct talks but spoke of “promoting agreement.” If Dr. Jarring is to succeed in bringing about mutuality of views, he must have ideas and suggestions — in short a clear statement of positions — from both sides, Mr. Thant said. “I am always for exposure, contact, and communication by all disputants in any crisis situation,” he declared.

In answer to a question about the effect on the UN of member states’ refusal to implement Security Council decisions, the Secretary-General, without naming any states, asserted that Council resolutions are mandatory and that when a measure is unanimous, it is necessary that all of its provisions should be implemented. The unanimity of the Big Powers and their willingness to make sure that a resolution is implemented is necessary for implementation, Mr. Thant said. He voiced hope that such cooperation would increase this year.

On the question of the suspended Big Four Mideast talks, Mr. Thant said that “if there is a basis for resumption, I believe the talks will be resumed immediately.” The talks were suspended pending the outcome of the American-Soviet bilateral discussions, he said. The Soviet Union, he said, replied in August to the United States’ proposals submitted in July. Mr. Thant said he hoped that the Big Four would begin their discussions anew during the General Assembly session when the foreign ministers of the Arab and Israel Governments are in New York.

Mr. Thant also said that he had been advised that the Four Powers believe that “the time is not congenial” for a Big Four summit-level meeting on the Mideast and other issues.

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