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Rogers Mum on U.S. Jets to Israel; Emphasizes Need for Continued Diplomatic Initiatives

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The anticipated announcement of the U.S. decision on more Jet sales to Israel and details of the new American peace Initiative in the Middle East failed to materialize at Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ press conference here this morning, Mr. Rogers said that the United States has submitted new peace proposals on the Mideast to encourage Arabs and Israelis “to stop shooting and Start talking” under United Nations auspices, but he gave no details of the plan. He declined to “discuss publicly military assistance for Israel” on grounds that to do so might Jeopardize acceptance of the new U.S. peace plan. Saying that he does not plan to announce any further Jet sales to Israel at the present time, Mr. Rogers asserted, “I think for the moment the emphasis should be on diplomatic initiatives and announcement now would be counter-productive.” He said, “Our objective in launching this initiative has been to encourage the parties toward a just and lasting peace which takes fully into account the legitimate aspirations and concerns of all governments and peoples in the area. In light of that objective, we believe it would not be useful to disclose at this time details of the political Initiatives or to discuss publicly military assistance for Israel,” he said. Mr. Rogers said that the U.S. has not abandoned its position of support for Israel’s sovereignty, independence and territorial Integrity which “remain in our interest.” (The Israeli Cabinet met in special session In Jerusalem today after calling Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin home for urgent consultations. The Rogers peace proposals are believed to have been the subject of the cabinet session.)

(In New York, a United Nations spokesman said neither Secretary General U Thant nor his Mideast peace envoy Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, had expressed any views on the U.S. proposals. The spokesman added that “I have no confirmation that the Secretary General has been informed of the contents of the U.S. initiatives.” Earlier in the week, however, a UN spokesman reported that Mr. Thant, during his visit to the Soviet Union last week, “was informed of new elements in the United States and Soviet Union positions regarding the Middle East,” and that Mr. Thant felt “that these new elements could narrow the gap.” The spokesman then said Mr. Thant’s feelings were based on his discussions with Soviet officials and from a “message from the United States Embassy in Moscow” which was believed to have originated in Washington. There has been some speculation that the message had contained specifies of the U.S. proposals for breaking the Mideast deadlock.) The Secretary of State emphasized that the new American initiative was based on the United Nations Security Council’s Mideast resolution of Nov. 22, 1967. He said it had been discussed with President Gamal Abdel Nasser, of Egypt and with Israeli.Arab, Soviet, French and British leaders. Mr. Rogers said the Soviet Union had made no commitment but “listened politely and thoughtfully.”

Secretary Rogers said the U.S. based its proposals in part on public statements made by both sides. He referred to President Nasser’s May 1 “appeal” to President Nixon and Nasser’s recent television interview broadcast in the U.S. in which he said he would be receptive to a cease-fire. He also referred to Premier Golda Meir’s recent Knesset speech In which she said that Israel was willing to accept the Nov. 22, 1967 resolution and Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s recent statement that Israel would be ready to make “startling” concessions once peace negotiations with the Arabs got underway. “This indicates considerable flexibility,” Mr. Rogers said. Under the U.S. initiative, the United Nations special envoy, Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring would return to the Mideast to initiate Arab-Israeli talks. The Secretary of State supported the Arab position that negotiations do not have to be face-to-face. He said a “negotiating stance” can be “in the same city, in adjacent buildings, on different floors of the same building or in different rooms on the same floor.” He emphasized that negotiations should be carried on in secret because public negotiations mean the parties simply repeat their cases and do not exchange Ideas. “We never believed outside governments could do the negotiating,” Rogers said. “I think the exchange has to be between the parties.” The Israel Embassy here said today that Ambassador Rabin has already returned to Israel for “consultations” on the U.S. peace moves. An Embassy spokesman said “any other comment will have to come from Jerusalem.” He added, “It would be wrong to comment on the American initiatives after the Secretary of State made It very clear that this Is not to be done in public.”

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