Four Power Talks Seen Bogged Down by Soviet ‘phase of Non-cooperation’

Soviet Ambassador Yakob Malik’s acrimonious attacks on the United States and Great Britain during the Security Council’s debate on Israel’s action in Lebanon yesterday was seen by diplomatic sources here as part of a “phase of non-cooperation” by the USSR within the Four Power Middle East talks. Mr. Malik accused the U.S. and Britain of delaying the progress of the Big Four talks. (State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey, commenting on the Malik attacks, said today, “If that’s indeed the full and considered attitude of the Soviet government, it is not very encouraging.” Mr. McCloskey said, “We are awaiting the return of (Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin to Washington to see what is appropriate as a next step in the bilaterals.” He was referring to the U.S.-Soviet Mideast talks that have been going on in Washington for a year, mainly between Mr. Dobrynin and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco. Asked if the U.S. would have any new proposals, Mr. McCloskey replied, “We feel it is incumbent on the other side to come forward with new proposals. They, in our opinion, have retrogressed, not the United States.”)

Diplomatic sources at the UN said the Soviet “phase of non-cooperation” began to manifest itself some three weeks ago, ante-dating the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. They felt that Mr. Malik’s repeated demand that Lord Caradon state whether Great Britain favored withdrawal of Israeli troops to pre-1967 borders was a calculated Soviet move to indicate publicly that the Four Powers were not united in their Mideast talks. Lord Caradon replied to Mr. Malik’s request that the British position had been stated clearly in the Four Power discussions. Diplomatic sources said Mr. Malik would not have discussed confidential aspects of the Four Power talks openly if the Soviet Union had any expectation of agreement. They added that the British have privately expressed criticism of Washington for falling to pressure Israel to agree to withdrawal. A British spokesman said the Big Four deputies met again yesterday and agreed “provisionally” to meet tomorrow if there is no further Security Council meeting. The deputies have been assigned the task of drafting a document on the progress of the Big Four to date. There was no indication that their draft would be ready by them, by the time the Big Four Ambassadors meet again May 26. A diplomatic source said that considering Mr. Malik’s flare-up in the Security Council yesterday the Four Power deputies conducted their meeting in a businesslike fashion. He said that while there was mutual reproach, the “acidity of the Council debate was not carried over in their meeting.”

NEXT STORY