UNITED NATIONS (Aug. 18)
Secretary General U Thant was reported today to have received Israel’s complaint that Egypt was continuing to construct missile sites and to deploy weapons close to the Suez Canal in violation of the cease-fire standstill agreement. The complaint had been sent yesterday to Maj. Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo, chief of staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and publicly disclosed by Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban. The complaint charged that five sites in the standstill zone, which had been empty earlier, now revealed construction activity. Spokesmen for the UN said this was the second complaint of a cease-fire violation Mr. Thant had received from Israel through UNTSO. The previous one, last Wednesday, dealt with the firing of two shots across the Suez Canal. Spokesmen also stated that a third complaint had been registered by Israel but termed that complaint “confidential.” At the same time, UN spokesmen denied that Maj. Gen. Siilasvuo’s trip to Egypt and specifically to the Ismailia area from where the two shots were fired last week was in any way connected with Israel’s complaints of a missile buildup within the 32-mile standstill zone. His trip was described as merely routine and as part of his function as the chief of staff of UNTSO.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, the UN’s special Middle East peace negotiator, was reported “continuing consultations and is working on general problems.” UN spokesmen declined to elaborate on this and on whether or not Dr. Jarring is still waiting for word on the site, time and level of negotiations from Israel, Egypt and Jordan. Although Egypt and Jordan named last week their respective UN ambassadors as negotiators and indicated that their site preference was New York, Israel has not yet named its negotiator and has indicated that it prefers to hold talks in Cyprus and on a ministerial rather than on an ambassadorial level. There was no confirmation here regarding reports that Dr. Jarring agrees with Israel that the talks should be held on a ministerial level nor that the negotiations are being delayed because agreement on the level of the talks has not been reached. Spokesman for the UN hinted that talks could begin and even continue if fighting resumed. They said there was no prior condition that a cease-fire had to prevail for talks to take place. The United States Ambassador Charles W. Yost, they said, had given Mr. Thant the cease-fire agreement “in confidence and it is going to remain confidential.” Asked if this cease-fire agreement was the same version as that released last Thursday by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, a spokesman said, “Dayan is a knowledgeable person – in this case,” but declined to elaborate.
Mohammed H. El Zayyat, Egypt’s ambassador to the UN, told newsmen yesterday that Dr. Jarring appeared optimistic about the prospects for talks but refused to discuss Israel’s charges about the cease-fire violations. It was reported, however, that he denied these charges in his talks with Dr. Jarring. He also met with Mr. Thant and Mr. Yost. Dr. Muhammed H. El Farra, the Jordanian ambassador, also met with Dr. Jarring and was later reported to be returning to Jordan today to consult with his government. UN officials are reluctant to offer an estimate of when the talks might begin. Arab delegates are reported not to have rejected the idea of meeting on the ministerial level but contend that the first stage of the negotiations should be conducted on the ambassadorial level. (During his press conference yesterday. Mr. Eban stated: “If it (the talks) will be at the level of United Nations representatives, then this mountain of expectations will bring forward a mouse. The Arab governments must understand that this is to be a very specific and particular occasion, at which governments will get together at a level of commitment.”)