LONDON (Aug. 12)
The Soviet Union has sounded out United States diplomats in Geneva on their willingness to engage in Joint clearing of the Suez Canal to make it navigable on behalf of the United Nations, according to reports from the Swiss capital. The Soviets, it was said, have pointed out that with Arab-Israeli negotiations on the horizon, it was high time to plan for the reopening of the canal, and that only the U.S. and the USSR could accomplish that speedily and at non-prohibitive cost. There was said to be no American reply as yet. Sources noted that the USSR could not accomplish the operation on her own even if she had sufficient political or military facilities, considering that in 1956, after the canal had been closed for only six weeks, clearing required the use of giant dredgers possessed only by West Germany and the Netherlands. The Russians, say the sources, assume that only the U.S. would be granted the use of the dredgers by those two countries, and even then, the cost would be prohibitive if borne by only the U.S.