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Peace Talks Grind to Halt; Big Two Peace Keeping Force in Mideast Gains Momentum

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A virtual news blackout has been imposed on the Middle East peace talks as it entered its third day today. Neither the Egyptian nor Jordanian ambassadors were known to have conferred with Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring this morning and there was no indication that any appointments had been arranged for this afternoon. UN spokesmen said the Swedish peace envoy was “not disclosing the modality of his consultations,” and declined to confirm or deny that Dr. Jarring had met yesterday with representatives from the United States and Soviet Union delegations to the UN. Spokesmen did confirm, however, that Dr. Jarring had intervened in 1968 to secure the release of Arab consults who were being held prisoners by Israel after the Six-Day War. At that time, the spokesmen said, he intervened on a “humanitarian basis” on “behalf of the prisoners” but this intervention did “not go beyond the consuls.” Sources at the UN had reported that Dr. Jarring said it was not part of his mandate under the Security Council Resolution 242 of Nov. 1967 to intercede on behalf of Israeli prisoners now held in Arab countries when Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah advised him on Tuesday that the Arabs could show good faith in the peace talks by releasing Israeli prisoners.

As the peace talks ground to a virtual halt here, reports released from the summer White House at San Clemente indicated that the Nixon administration was preparing to be moving closer toward Joining the Soviet Union in the enforcement of a Mideast settlement. A UN spokesman said that Secretary General U Thant had read the reports of the effort to establish a Big Two peace-keeping force but declined to comment. According to a transcript released yesterday of a background briefing for newsmen Monday at the summer White House which was attended by President Nixon and his top advisors, the peace-keeping force would resemble the United Nations Emergency Force which maintained peace prior to the Six-Day War. Such a force, however, would not be implemented until the Israeli-Arab peace talks at the UN was achieved. In addition, according to the background report, both the Israelis and Arabs would have to agree to the plan which is similar to that advanced recently by The Washington Post and subsequently endorsed by Democratic Senators Alan Cranston of California and Rarold E. Hughes of Iowa. According to the report, the Big Two peace-keeping force would be a supplement to the security arrangements the Israelis and Arabs might devise during the course of their peace negotiations. Implicit in the report is the view that the Big Two might have to enforce a Mideast peace settlement even if the current antagonists achieve a settlement through their talks.

Diplomatic sources at the UN expressed the feeling that the enthusiasm expressed by the Nixon administration in the potential of a Big Two peace-keeping force has been buoyed by the generally favorable reaction here and abroad to the proposal announced this week by Senator J.W. Fulbright. The Arkansas senator, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, proposed, among other measures dealing with a Mideast settlement, that the U.S. and the Soviet Union create a United Nations police force capable of enforcing a Middle East peace if the parties there failed to reach accord. According to the report released by the summer White House, U.S. officials feel that this country has a responsibility to act in the Middle East, possibly as a restraining force on the Israelis, since it was the U.S. peace initiative that led to the 90-day cease-fire. At the same time, administration officials feel that the Russians should exercise a similar restraint on the Arabs to accept a settlement short of their demand that Israel withdraw from all the territories occupied by them as a result of the Six-Day War. Under the rules of the briefing, those present briefing the 48 newspaper and broadcast executives from 13 western states could not be directly quoted. It was understood, however, that those present along with Mr. Nixon were U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers, Assistant Secretary Joseph J. Sisco, and the President’s national security advisor Dr. Henry Kissinger. It was Dr. Kissinger, at an earlier backgrounder, who spoke of “expelling” the Soviets from the Middle East, a remark whose military overtones the White House has since sought to dispel.

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