UNITED NATIONS, N.Y (Feb. 16)
One of the subjects which United Nations Secretary-General U Thant is expected to discuss with Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring, his special representative for the Middle East, when they meet in Geneva on Wednesday is the possibility that Dr. Jarring immediately resume his Mideast mission in an attempt to cool down the situation there, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today.
Mr. Thant announced today that “in view of the increasingly severe deterioration” in the Middle East situation, he had asked Dr. Jarring, now serving as Swedish Ambassador in Moscow, to meet him in Geneva Wednesday. His announcement stated that the two men would “discuss the situation in general and the roles of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative in seeking to cope with it.” Mr. Thant will proceed from Geneva to Burma on a personal visit and will return to New York about Feb. 27.
The Jarring mission to the Middle East was shelved last spring when the Four Powers – the United States, Soviet Union, Britain and France – began talks aiming at agreed “guidelines” to be given Dr. Jarring for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Four Powers have not reached agreement on any guidelines and, despite repeated American concessions, have not approached agreement on any major issues.
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED OVER INTENSIFIED ARAB-JEWISH FIGHTING
Mr. Thant is known to have been increasingly concerned over the stepped-up pace of the Arab-Jewish fighting and to be apprehensive that Israel and the Arab states are on the verge of full-scale renewal of the war. Gen. Odd Bull, the head of the UN cease-fire observation team in the Middle East reported to him that the cease-fire agreements which halted the Six-Day War in June 1967 were virtually dead letters. Mr. Thant is known also to believe that some form of cease-fire arrangement must be enforced immediately to prevent a widening of hostilities.
France has proposed that Dr. Jarring be sent to the Middle East immediately to seek renewed compliance with the cease-fire agreement. The United States and Britain have also strongly stressed in Four Power meetings the urgency of compliance with the agreement but the Soviet Union has not gone along with them. President Nasser of Egypt denounced the cease-fire last August when he proclaimed a new war of attrition against Israel. His argument, echoed by the Soviet Union, is that the cease-fire agreement would crystallize Israel’s retention of the territories it occupied in the Six-Day War.
The understanding here was that Mr. Thant and Dr. Jarring would not necessarily discuss restoration of the cease-fire agreements but the possibility of Dr. Jarring persuading both sides to reduce their military activities and, in general, observe a cooling off period. The Secretary-General was said to believe that the present state of near-warfare has made attempts at settlement by diplomatic means almost impossible and that the only hope of averting a conflagration would be if both sides limited their military activities and gave the diplomats a chance to work. Gen. Bull, who flew here for consultations with Mr. Thant, was to return to his Jerusalem headquarters almost immediately. He had a conference with Mr. Thant today as did Ambassador Armand Berard of France.