WASHINGTON (Aug. 19)
The State Department conceded today that there was an “over-deployment of surface-to-air missiles” on the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal as the standstill cease-fire went into effect at 1 a.m. Aug. 8, Cairo time. It also conceded that “there is some evidence that this was continued beyond the cease-fire deadline.” But the Department said its evidence was “not conclusive” enough to term the missile activity an outright violation. Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey, who made the announcement, added that “With respect to additional information which the Israeli government has brought to our attention concerning possible violations of the cease-fire, we are examining it and in touch with the parties through diplomatic channels.” In answer to a newsman’s question, Mr. McCloskey explained that his statement. covered only the first complaint made by Israel–missile advances the night the cease-fire took effect. He indicated that the subsequent complaints by Israel would be discussed with her “and other governments” on the basis of both Israeli and United States intelligence reports.
“We do not now anticipate making further public statements on this matter,” Mr. McCloskey said in his statement, adding in answer to a question: “Our hope is that when such issues arise to communicate them through diplomatic channels for quiet diplomacy so that those who claim injury are satisfied. We are striving to get the matter into private channels and work out something that way. Our view is that we think the (peace) talks ought to get under way promptly.” Mr. McCloskey noted in his statement that “Adherence to the cease-fire and standstill is of great importance to the success of current peace efforts. The main thing now is to concentrate all efforts on getting discussions going under Ambassador (Gunnar V.) Jarring’s auspices. The United States believes these talks should begin promptly.” Mr. McCloskey added, in answer to a question, that the U.S. will continue its Middle East aerial reconnaissance.
The spokesman said the question of the missile movement would be taken up with the Soviet Union for the first time on an unspecified date. It was presumed that Egypt and Jordan, representatives of which visited the State Department before Mr. McCloskey’s briefing, had seen the text of his statement before he read it to reporters in the crowded newsroom. Asked whether the U.S. was sending additional military equipment to Israel, Mr. McCloskey replied: “We have talked in specifics.” He would not elaborate on his remark, other than to reiterate several times the administration’s determination to prevent a military imbalance in the Mideast. The spokesman said it was up to Dr. Jarring, the United Nations’ special mediator, and not to the U.S. to determine the diplomatic level of the peace talks. Dr. Jarring prefers to meet with Foreign Ministers, Egypt and Jordan have designated their UN ambassadors and Israel has held off naming representatives because of the new missile issue.