Administration Studying Egypt’s ‘preliminary Report’ on U.S. Peace Initiative

The administration has received “a preliminary report” from Egypt to the United States peace initiative for the Middle East and is “awaiting further reports,” State Department spokesman Carl E. Bartch said today. “The reply and other reports.” he said, “will be under study, and I will not be able to comment on them.” But he averred that “we know the general nature of the reply.” although “I am not sure we have the complete text.” Mr. Bartch said he believed “a written reply” Is in the hands of Donald C. Bergus, the U.S. diplomatic representative in Cairo. “At the moment I can’t characterize it.” Mr. Bartch said of the reply. “We are discussing the matter with other parties. It is still under discussion.” He included Israel, the Soviet Union and Jordan among the “other parties, adding: “I am sure there are others but I don’t have a list here.” Pressed on whether any governments other than that of Egypt have responded to the American initiative. Mr. Bartch said only that “I can’t rule out–or in–the possibility of a reply from other countries.” He declined comment on whether an informal Israeli reply was delivered here by Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin. He said there was no date set as yet for another meeting here between Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin and Joseph J. Sisco. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.

(In Cairo, the authoritative semi-official newspaper Al Ahram said the Egyptian reply conformed to Egyptian policy in that it endorsed a settlement based on Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories and the recognition of Palestinian rights. The Egyptian government announced that President Gamal Abdel Nasser will deliver a major speech tomorrow. In Tel Aviv, Israeli sources said an official Israeli reply would not be made until after that speech. Mr. Bergus apparently received the Egyptian response during a 30-minute meeting today with Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad. Mr. Riad then briefed Soviet Ambassador Sergei Vinogradov and French Ambassador Francois Puaux. He was expected to see Arab ambassadors tomorrow.)

Mr. Bartch reported that “preliminary information” has confirmed Egyptian reports that an American-born pilot has been captured by Egypt, but noted that he has been an Israeli citizen since 1961. Washington has no Jurisdiction over the activities of private Americans overseas, although it “strongly opposes” their participation in the military activities of other nations. As to Egyptian charges that there are 20,000 American personnel aiding Israel, Mr. Bartch cited registration figures and estimates by the American Embassy in Tel Aviv and the American Consulate in Jerusalem to the effect that “this figure (20,000) approximates the total number of Americans, including men. women and children of all ages, in Israel and the occupied territories, which includes a substantial number of Americans of Arab extraction living in the occupied territories.” The spokesman added that “The number of persons of military age may be smaller” and that “There may be some persons of dual citizenship serving in the Israel) Armed Forces.”

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