UNITED NATIONS, N.Y (Feb. 17)
Secretary-General U Thant confirmed today that he would seek early reactivization of the peace-seeking mission of Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring, his special representative for the Middle East. Mr. Thant will meet Ambassador Jarring in Geneva tomorrow. He told a UN press conference today that he will discuss with him whether the time has not come for him to resume his mission. The Secretary-General said that reactivization of the Jarring mission would depend primarily on guidelines being drafted by the Four Powers – United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France – but he stressed that this was not exclusive.
He noted, however, that Dr. Jarring would be reluctant to return to the Middle East if this merely involved a resumption of his “fruitless” rounds of Jerusalem and the Arab capitals. Mr. Thant expressed optimism over the possibilities of Four Power agreement although he resolutely refused to set up a timetable or deadline on their deliberations. He said he had studied the American, Soviet and French proposals and had found “common denominators” in the three proposals which he said could be translated into guidelines.
Mr. Thant indicated that he was generally in agreement with the French thesis that it was not necessary to have a complete set of guidelines for Dr. Jarring to resume his negotiations but that he could proceed on the basis of agreement on one or two basic issues. He said “it is difficult to agree on all the basic issues but there are some basic issues on which agreement can be reached to formulate guidelines for the Jarring mission.”
VIOLATION OF CEASE-FIRE BY BOTH SIDES INTENSIFYING; AGREEMENT NOW COMPLETELY INEFFECTIVE
The Secretary-General again expressed grave concern over the situation in the Middle East which he described as “heating up most dangerously.” He said that his daily reports to the Security Council had shown that the cease-fire agreements which ended the Six-Day War in June 1967 had broken down completely and were now completely ineffective, particularly in the Suez sector. Both sides, he said, were committing breaches which have increased in number and intensity. He described as “unprecedented” In UN annals, public announcements from both sides of military actions in violation of the cease-fire.
Restoration of the cease-fire, Mr. Thant said, has been under consideration at all recent meetings of the Four Powers and will be on the agenda again for their next meeting on Thursday. One of the Big Four, he said, had presented “certain ideas” on the subject which were to be discussed. The Secretary-General said that he had been concerned with the cease-fire question and had asked Lt. Gen. Odd Bull, head of the UN observation mission in the Middle East, to return to UN headquarters for consultations. Meetings with Gen. Bull, he said, had been “very fruitful” and would be concluded today after which Gen. Bull will return to his Jerusalem headquarters.
The Secretary-General firmly ruled out any new approach to the Arab-Israeli issue which might involve scrapping the Security Council resolution of Nov. 22.1967. the basis for present peace efforts and for the Jarring mission. He emphasized that he would not take a new initiative under the UN charter, as his predecessor. Dag Hammarskjold, had done in the Congo crisis. “It is up to the Security Council to take new initiatives if it deems that necessary,” Mr. Thant asserted. He stressed that he would not take any initiative to supersede the Security Council’s action.
U THANT REAFFIRMS BELIEF IN POSSIBILITY OF POLITICAL SOLUTION TO ARAB-ISRAEL DISPUTE
He pointed out that “not one member of the Security Council has advocated that the Security Council should meet now. Each one realizes that a meeting now would not be productive.” Under these circumstances, he added, it would not be appropriate for the Secretary-General to invoke Article 99 of the UN Charter to bring the Security Council into session. The Secretary-General declined to elaborate on what “new measures” he deemed were necessary to avert catastrophe In the Middle East. He said he had communicated his thoughts on this aspect of the situation to the Four Powers.
Frequently in the course of the questions and answers, Mr. Thant reaffirmed his belief in the possibility of a political solution of the Arab-Israeli dispute. “I am not pessimistic about the outcome of the Big Four deliberations,” he said at one point. “It would not be realistic to establish a timetable.” Asked what would be the value of a limitation on arms shipments to the Middle East, Mr. Thant said that, in principle, he favored arms limitation, particularly of highly sophisticated arms. But he warned It would be misleading to leave the matter there, pointing out that no restriction of arms shipments was self-executing. “The test is its effectiveness,” he declared, “and its impartial application. It could defeat its own ends if it gave a military advantage to one state or the other.”
The last part of the press conference was devoted by Mr. Thant to a long and frequently impassioned defense of his policies and actions in a number of crises going back to the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force from the Sinai Peninsula in 1967 – the action that largely precipitated the Six-Day War.