Eban: Egypt Has Not Yet Responded to Israel’s Suggestion for Informal Peace Talks

Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the Knesset today that Cairo has not yet reacted to Israel’s July 13 proposal for representatives of the two countries to meet informally to lay the groundwork for negotiations. Regarding the stalled peace mission of special United Nations mediator Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring, Mr. Eban said Israel “has not taken any initiative for its resumption, since it is clear that in view of the talks between the great powers, this would have no chance.” But, he added, “As In the past, we shall be ready to cooperate with Dr. Jarring on the basis of his original mandate, which obliges him to promote an agreement between the states of the region for the establishment of a just and lasting peace.” Mr. Eban emphatically denied a press report of six weeks ago that Israel had offered the Soviet Union a “deal” to reopen the Suez Canal in return for a cease-fire. “There is not, nor was there, any discussion on such a deal.” he stated. He added that Israel expects that the canal will be reopened for international use “within the framework of a lasting peace.” Mr. Eban also denied a report that Israel has leased an Ethiopian island in the Red Sea for use as a military base. “I cannot rid myself of the feeling,” he said, “that those who are behind the spreading of these lies intend to camouflage the penetration of a great power (the Soviet Union) which has an interest in becoming the dominant factor in this region by establishing bases In African states lying along the Red Sea coast,” Those states are Egypt, the Sudan. Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia.

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