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Reaction to Rogers’ Proposal: Arab Governments Angry, Guerrillas Furious, Russians Silent

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Arab government leaders expressed anger this weekend over the peace proposals for the Middle East announced by United States Secretary of State William P. Rogers but not outright rejection of his approach, according to reports here. Spokesmen for the Arab fedayeen groups, however, bitterly denounced the proposals. At the same time, the Soviet Union maintained a tight silence about its views of the U.S. peace initiative. Egyptian sources here said today that President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt will go to Moscow this week to discuss the new American peace initiative with Kremlin leaders. According to the sources, that will be the sole topic of his visit. No date was disclosed. British sources said the new British government will not announce any specific reaction to the American plan, beyond welcoming the initiative, until Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home has an opportunity to talk to Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban. Mr. Eban is due here tomorrow. What purported to be particulars of the Rogers plan were leaked to the press in Lebanon and Paris last week. According to the reports, the first phase of the American initiative calls for establishing a cease-fire in the Suez Canal zone for at least 90 days and to create a demilitarized zone 12 miles deep on each side of the waterway. The hiatus in fighting would be used to reactivate the peace mission of United Nations envoy Gunnar V. Jarring, the reports said. (Israeli sources claimed the “leaked” reports were inaccurate but made no other comment. But fear was expressed in some quarters here today that a cease-fire of limited duration could be used by Egypt and its Soviet allies to install SAM-3 anti-aircraft missiles in the Suez Canal zone from which they have been excluded so far by constant Israeli bombardment.)

The newspaper of the left-wing Syrian Baathist party called the American initiative a “bloody, malicious declaration against the Arab nation’s future.” But the main Syrian complaint was that, according to leaked versions, the plan did not provide for Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan Heights. (President Nasser, to whom Mr. Rogers primarily addressed his appeal to “stop shooting and start talking,” said at a rally Thursday in Libya that the American proposal fell short of Arab objectives. Col. Nasser shared a platform with President Noureddin el Atassi, of Syria and in the tradition of Islamic noblesse oblige, declared, “Syria before Egypt, Golan before the Sinai.” The implication was that Egypt would accept no settlement that did not provide for recovery of all Arab territories lost in the June, 1967 Six-Day War. Western observers noted however that President Nasser’s reaction may have been a rebuff to the specific Rogers formulas but was not a rejection of the American initiative. The Egyptian leader returned to Cairo Friday amid reports that he would immediately undertake consultations with other Arab governments on the American proposals.)

RIAD MEETS WITH SISCO: ADMINISTRATION DISAPPOINTED WITH NASSER’S RESPONSE TO ROGERS

(In Washington, the State Department announced that Mahmoud Riad, chief of the cabinet to the Foreign Ministry of the UAR, met yesterday with Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco to discuss the

El Fatah branded the Rogers plan a “conspiracy” aimed at forcing the Arabs to accept “submissive” plans. Kamal Nasser, spokesman for the unified central guerrilla command in Amman, pledged that the guerrillas would do everything in their power to block implementation of the American proposals. Dr. George Habash, Marxist leader of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine mocked the Rogers proposal according to reports from Amman. Secretary Rogers said at his press conference that the Soviet Union made no commitments on the American plan but “listened politely and thoughtfully.” In the absence of official reaction from Moscow there were contradictory reports afloat as to the Kremlin’s attitude and intentions. Some reports from the Soviet capital yesterday noted that the Russians have shown renewed interest in recent weeks in reaching a political settlement of the Mideast dispute and that Moscow was reported to have shown some new flexibility in talks in Washington. Some reports observed that there is still no indication that the Russians really want a settlement in the Middle East and Soviet reaction to the latest American initiative has been one of reserve. According to most observers here, Israel subscribes to the most pessimistic views of Moscow’s intentions and is deeply unhappy that Secretary Rogers did not take a firmer stand toward the growing Soviet military presence in Egypt.

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