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Egyptian Government Denies, in Wake of Riad Remarks, That It Will Negotiate Peace

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The Egyptian Government denied today that it would ever negotiate peace with Israel. Its denial came in the wake of remarks to newsmen yesterday by its Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad that “Rhodes-formula” talks could take place it Israel “renounced expansionism.” Mr. Riad’s reference was to the indirect negotiations between Egypt and Israel through United Nations representative Dr. Ralph Bunche on the Mediterranean island of Rhodes in 1949 ending in direct talks leading to an armistice.

In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman David Rivlin said that his Government had not interpreted the Riad remarks as indicating that the Arabs “want peace or want to negotiate peace.” They contained, he said, nothing new.

Mr. Riad, upon emerging from a consultation with Secretary of State William P. Rogers, told reporters that his country rejected direct negotiations with Israel so long as it remained in the occupied territories. In present circumstances, contacts and efforts at agreement must be indirect through UN Mideast peace envoy Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring, he said.

He also declared that Israeli troop withdrawal is not a precondition of Egyptian acceptance of a “package” settlement of all Middle East issues in dispute which would be agreed to fully before any of its parts are implemented. Israel withdrawal would be part of the settlement, not a prerequisite, Mr. Riad said. An Egyptian Government spokesman in Cairo asserted today that reports of Mr. Riad’s statements were “falsehoods” and that the Arabs would never negotiate with Israel. He blamed the reports on U.S. news agencies which allegedly were pro-Israel and pro-Zionist.

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