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Big Four Deputies Working on Memorandum but Diplomatic Circles Uncertain About Outcome

The Four Power deputies met today to continue their work on drawing up a memorandum on the progress of the Big Four talks on the Middle East. But it was anybody’s guess as to whether or not the deputies, authorized last week by the Four Power ambassadors to draw up a memorandum and have it ready by April 15 when the Big Four resume talks, are having any success in their work. Most diplomatic sources were close-mouthed today about what the deputies were doing or what they accomplished at their earlier meeting this week on Monday.

One source observed, “It’s my feeling that they are doing as well as can be expected. I imagine they will have something ready in time for the (ambassador’s) meeting. Another source said the deputies are “working” and “meeting as scheduled.” The most pervasive feeling among diplomatic sources was that there “is nothing decisive happening at the moment.” The memorandum has been termed by United States, French and British spokesmen as a step forward in the stalemated Big Four talks. The most optimistic view has been expressed by the French ambassador, Jacques Kosciusko-Morizet, who viewed the work of the deputies as a step in the direction that would make possible the resumption of Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring’s work. The U.S. view was that the work of the deputies represented a “tiny step forward,” while the British characterized the work as a “positive decision.”

Most diplomatic sources, however, are cautious about going any further than these views and some even express skepticism that a memorandum will be ready by April 15. The memorandum is viewed as an open-ended listing of where the Big Four talks are at and not binding on any of the ambassadors. The ambassadors bogged down last month over drawing up a “catalog” of agreements and disagreements between them on the Middle East talks. The “catolog” was viewed as more of a closed-ended statement requiring a more binding attitude by the Four Powers. An American diplomatic spokesman said the difference between “catolog” and memorandum was basically a terminological one but added that the difference in terminology at this stage in the Four Power talks might prove sufficient to move the talks forward and soften the Soviet opposition to a “catalog.”

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