UNITED NATIONS (Sep. 24)
The United States and Soviet Union have reached common ground on an approach to a Mideast peace settlement, a high level Government official said yesterday.
It was asserted authoritatively that both sides agree on a need for a package plan dealing with all elements of the Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 resolution. Both super-powers agree that the package must be contained in a contractual agreement, including Arab and Israeli signatures, which must be accepted by the contending parties, deposited, understood and made public before any element of it goes into operation. On the issue of Arab refugees, it would become operative over a period of years.
The Big Four — U.S., Soviet Union, France and Great Britain — will resume their recessed talks probably in mid-October. In the meantime the Big Two will seek preliminary agreement on the package, along with the assistance of UN Mideast peace envoy Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring, the official said.
Areas on which the Secretary of State William P. Rogers and Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko do not agree is the substance of the package and the proper method of going about negotiating it.
The New York Times reported that some diplomats hope to gather the Arabs and Israel at the UN or elsewhere and send in independent mediators to shuttle between them with ideas and encouragement. Dr. Jarring is seen as playing a key role in such an effort. He would possibly hold separate conferences with each side in order to try to persuade them to narrow their differences enough to hold final discussions in the same room to sign a peace treaty much as the Rhodes talks in 1949 led to armistices.
U.S. diplomats, the Times reported, said Mr. Gromyko was more constructive and less dogmatic in private than in public statements. A similar discrepancy between the Arabs’ public hostility and private attitudes toward the U.S. was reported.
An Israeli diplomatic source dismissed the reported package plan as “so much chit-chat” and without “concrete substance.” He termed it a kind of “vague progress report” but noted that if indeed there is yet unseen substance, “we will know in a very short while.” In the meantime, an illusion of Big Two progress must be kept up, the source said.