Arabs Said to Agree Withdrawal Not Settlement Prerequisite, May Accept Direct Talks
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Arabs Said to Agree Withdrawal Not Settlement Prerequisite, May Accept Direct Talks

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The Arab States have informed the United States and Soviet Union that prior Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories is no longer a prerequisite for an Arab-Israeli settlement, authoritative U.S. sources said today. There were also reports that the Arabs have indicated that under certain conditions they might agree to meet the Israelis face-to-face, but would not abandon their insistence on ultimate withdrawal.

Informed U.S. sources said that Secretary of State William P. Rogers, in his meeting today with Israel’s visiting Premier, Mrs. Golda Meir, urged her to adopt a more flexible stand on the question of direct negotiations with the Arabs. Israel has demanded direct talks to negotiate a peace document that would result in secure, recognized and agreed boundaries.

As a result of the Arabs’ position on withdrawal, the U.S. – Soviet talks now pursued on two levels have moved forward toward developing a formula for an expanded and strengthened role for United Nations Secretary-General U Thant’s special Mideast envoy, Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring, the sources said.

Drafts of a document to implement this projected Jarring initiative have already been exchanged by the U.S. and Soviet Union, it was disclosed. An unresolved problem is whether the Palestinians and their guerrilla groups would accept Israel-Arab direct negotiations. Some form of concession to the Palestinians is being reportedly sought by the Russians and Americans in the context of a viable settlement. This may involve a request to Israel to agree to limited repatriation.

The U.S. is said to see merit in Soviet insistence that Dr. Jarring could shuttle back and forth between the Arabs and Israelis to resolve their differences as well as to present both sides with a compromise formula endorsed by the Big Four as a basis for direct negotiations. The Arabs have indicated that they might, if presented with such a super-power-endorsed formula, agree to meet the Israelis face-to-face to sign what U.S. officials described as an “appropriate instrument.” The Big Four are slated to meet in late October. It is believed that any diplomacy involving Dr. Jarring would have to await the outcome of Israel’s Oct. 28 national election.


American-Soviet talks were to continue between Joseph J. Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin following tonight’s scheduled third meeting between Secretary of State William P. Rogers and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko. The lower-level talks will be aimed at narrowing the gap between the two nations’ positions.

Mr. Rogers and Mrs. Meir were said to have discussed negotiations — though not necessarily direct ones–in their 70-minute talk in Mrs. Meir’s hotel suite today. With Mr. Rogers was UN Ambassador Charles W. Yost and Mr. Sisco. Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin accompanied Mrs. Meir. Mr. Rogers was scheduled today to confer with Abdul Moneim Rifai, the Foreign Minister of Jordan, and the envoy of Saudi Arabia. Tomorrow he will meet with the Lebanese. He would only characterize today’s session with Mrs. Meir–their third since she arrived last week–as “very interesting, pleasant.”

Appearing this morning on the National Broadcasting Co.’s “Today” television program before her round of appointments and speeches began, Mrs. Meir maintained that no pressure had been exerted upon her by President Richard M. Nixon or other U.S. Government officials to make an explicit statement on withdrawal from occupied territories. Mrs. Meir said the question of territory was not relevant, asserting that peace hinged upon Arab acceptance of Israel’s right to exist.

Questioned following the TV interview about her evaluation of her visit to New York, Mrs. Meir said her reception was “overwhelming.” She said, “I have no words to describe it — it is beyond anything I ever dreamed of.” Mrs. Meir met today with New York Congressional leaders, the editors of Time, Life and Fortune magazines, editorial board of the New York Times, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and addressed Jewish youth groups in Madison Square Garden. She attended a dinner tendered in her honor by the City of New York at the Brooklyn Museum.

It was reported today though not confirmed that Mrs. Meir, who had expected to return to Israel at the end of this week, will remain here to address an AFL-CIO convention in Atlantic City, N.J. next week. Mr. Eban is expected to return home this week.

Mrs. Meir told a festive Waldorf-Astoria Hotel dinner sponsored by 55 Jewish organizations and attended by 2,700 last night that Israel wished to meet the Arabs as “equals” and does not want to meet them as victors or to humiliate them. Israel, she said, needs more than mere verbal assurances of peace — rather real, negotiated peace.

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