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Four Powers Said to Be Marking Time in Their Talks Until Sisco Returns

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Diplomatic sources reported today that “very little progress” was made during yesterday’s Four Power talks and that the ambassadors are “marking time” until Joseph Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, returns from his Middle East “orientation trip” with an assessment of the situation there. The Big Four are scheduled to meet again on May. 5. The Big Four deputies, who held four meetings this month in an effort to draw up a memorandum, will meet again tomorrow. A spokesman for the British said today that a memorandum had been submitted by the deputies to the Four Power ambassadors in time for yesterday’s meeting but that it was not a complete memorandum. He described it as nothing more than a “stock taking” document. The spokesman said it is expected that a completed memorandum will be ready for the May 5 meeting.

A diplomatic source described the deputies’ document as merely listing “negative” and “positive” points of agreement and disagreement the Four Powers have reached in their talks to date. The source said the memo did not go beyond that which the ambassadors had themselves reached in terms of what progress they had made when they asked their deputies on March 31 to draw up the memo. A British diplomatic source said there is “a possibility” that the deputies may not be able to reach agreement on a unified memo by May 5, and that in order to expedite the Big Four talks they may submit “majority” and “minority” memos. “One always hopes,” he said, “that this will not occur, but one cannot promise that a unified report will be submitted.” He added that a majority-minority report is “meaningless.”

MICHAEL STEWART: ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL AND QUESTIONS OF BOUNDARIES ARE INSEPARABLE

Referring to the statement Monday in the House of Commons by Evan Luard, Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, that Lord Caradon has proposed a Mideast settlement based on Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and Arab recognition of Israel, the British spokesman said the proposal had been put forth at the deputies’ meeting and not at the ambassadors’ meeting. “The British put this forward in good faith as a step in dealing with the Middle East situation,” he said. “Mr. Luard’s statement spells out our point of view.” Mr. Luard had also referred to the possibility that at some later date, preferably after Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring had resumed his peace mission, the Big Four would invite “the parties in conflict” in the Mideast to participate in the deliberations. The British spokesman said, “The United Kingdom is not seeking to float this as a proposal at this time.” Such meetings, he said, depend on “timing.” He said reference to this type of meeting has been made by Lord Caradon at Four Power talks.

Elaborating the British attitude toward Israeli withdrawal and boundaries, Michael Stewart, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, told the House of Commons: “To this withdrawal all the Four Powers are agreed, and both the parties (Israel and Arab states) in a general sense have agreed. But when one speaks of withdrawal one is obliged to speak, in almost the same sentence, of boundaries…It seems to me that the question of withdrawal and the question of boundaries must be taken together as a matter of plain common sense.” Mr. Stewart added that in discussing boundaries “it is legitimate to speak of small alterations in the interests of security to those boundaries which existed at the beginning of the 1967 war.” The Secretary of State noted that there are no “difficulties” in terms of boundaries between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Lebanon. But, “the boundary between Israel and Jordan presents greater difficulties.” In this case, he said, Britain takes the same view as the United States that “modifications would have to be made.” Boundaries concerning Jerusalem, Mr. Stewart added, is an “idle” question “until we have got further in solving the other questions in dispute.” Mr. Luard had indicated that one of several “essential commitments” for a Mideast settlement involved the solution of the “complex problem of Jerusalem.”

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