Big Four May Try Again to Draw Up Catalog of Agreements and Disagreements

The Big Four powers resumed their Middle East talks today amid speculation by diplomatic sources that the discussions may include an effort to draw up a “catalog” of agreements and disagreements. A spokesman for the United States said he would “not deny” that this catalog would be part of the discussions. At their last meeting, on March 19, the Four Power representatives tried to draw up such a catalog but were unable to come to any agreement, because some of them were prepared to discuss only what they had agreed on while others wanted to discuss both the agreements and disagreements.

Late afternoon the Big Four representatives concluded their discussion on the Middle East, with United States Ambassador Charles W. Yost, the host, announcing that Four Power deputies had been asked to prepare a memo on the talks so far on implementation of the Security Council cease-fire. The deputies, he said, would meet Thursday, and were expected to submit their memo in time for the next meeting of the ambassadors on April 15, at the residence of the new French representative.

The Big Four talks were cancelled last Thursday, the regular day for the talks, at the request of Lord Caradon, the British representative, who said he had a speaking engagement in Canada. The announcement of the cancellation came just before Secretary of State William P. Rogers and Soviet Ambassador Anatoli Dobrynin were scheduled to meet in Washington on Wednesday to confer on the possibility of resuming the Two Power talks. Diplomatic sources in New York contended that cancellations of the Big Four talks was prompted by the meeting in Washington. The sources observed that the Four Power representatives wanted to assess the Rogers-Dobrynin conference. Early last Tuesday afternoon a UN spokesman announced that Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, special UN representative to the Middle East, would leave his New York headquarters later in the day to return to Moscow. He had come to New York on March 10 to confer with representatives of the Big Four and other “interested parties.”

According to diplomatic sources, Dr. Jarring’s return to Moscow was partially due to the hard-line attitude adopted by the Soviet representative at the Four Power talks in rejecting a catalog that would spell out agreements and disagreements with the other three powers on Mideast guidelines. Now, diplomats are saying, that Dr. Jarring has returned, the Russians, are showing a greater willingness to discuss a full catalog and ready to make procedural compromises to show that they are not responsible for any roadblocks in the continuing talks. The spokesman for the American Delegation said there is no way of judging at this time whether the projected bilateral talks in Washington would act as a substitute for the Big Four talks. Sources have stated that the Big Four talks which have been taking place weekly, may take place less frequently. The U.S. spokesman said that less frequent meetings may occur but may not be directly motivated by the Two Power talks, but by other practical considerations.

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