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State Department Will Not Discuss Reports It Seeks Cease-fire Extension

State Department spokesman Robert McCloskey declined comment today on reports that the department was working to obtain an extension of the current 90-day Mideast cease-fire and standstill. Asked at a briefing about that report, he replied only that “we are trying and hoping” that the talks which began in New York this morning under United Nations peace envoy Gunnar Jarring “will continue and be productive.” He added “that is where our emphasis is right now.” Asked whether the Big Four UN ambassadors were meeting in connection with the Jarring mission, he indicated that the State Department did not feel that there was any obligation for Dr. Jarring to meet with the UN envoys. He said that the Big Four discussions on the Mideast did not constitute a UN “entity.” He added that he did not know of any Big Four ambassadors meeting being scheduled for this week but that the Big Four governments were being “kept informed.” He also was asked whether the United States was giving Israel any information bearing on reported complaints by Israel that Egypt was mistreating Israeli prisoners of war, in violation of the 90-day cease-fire agreement. He said “that is not the case. My understanding is that in Egypt, United States officials do not know whether the Israeli prisoners are being held” and therefore had no information to give Israel on the charge.

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