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Egypt’s Violation of Standstill Accord Officially Acknowledged by State Department

The State Department officially acknowledged today that Egypt violated the standstill cease-fire agreement in the Suez Canal zone, disclosed that the U.S. has made representations to both Egypt and the Soviet Union on the matter and urged that the peace talks under United Nations envoy Gunnar V. Jarring “proceed forthwith.” It also re-iterated America’s determination not to permit Israel’s security to be “adversely affected.” The statement issued this afternoon by State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey was the first public confirmation by the U.S. that Israel’s charges of truce violations against Egypt were correct. Informed quarters here said that this was most likely to be the final public statement the U.S. will issue on the subject. Mr. McCloskey said: “Our latest evidence confirms that there have been violations of the cease-fire standstill agreement. We are not going into details. We are taking up this matter both with the UAR and the USSR through diplomatic channels. We are continuing to watch the balance closely and, as we have previously said, we have no intention of permitting Israel’s security to be adversely affected. In the meantime, we believe it is of utmost importance that the talks between the parties under Ambassador Jarring’s auspices proceed forthwith.”

The Soviet government has been approached on the matter of the standstill violations by U.S. Ambassador Jacob Beam. In Cairo, where the U.S. Embassy has been closed since the June. 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Minister Donald C. Bergus, the senior American diplomat there, made the first representations to Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad on Aug. 19, the sources said, and will meet with him again. Ambassador Beam brought the matter up with Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir M. Vinogradov and is understood to have received instructions to seek a meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko. In none of the representations was there an American demand for a rollback of the missiles and missile sites which Israel charges were installed in the truce zone after the cease-fire went into effect Aug. 7. According to sources here the U.S. is seeking, through “quiet diplomacy” to halt further Egyptian encroachments in the cease-fire zone. It hopes that this will satisfy Israel and that the stalled peace talks under United Nations envoy Gunnar V. Jarring can be resumed.

Israel has demanded a public confirmation by the U.S. that violations have taken place and strong U.S. action to rectify the situation. The official U.S. position as of Aug. 19 was that the evidence Israel presented was “not conclusive.” Since then, however, American intelligence has amassed photographic and electronic evidence which reportedly confirms the Israeli charges beyond doubt. The evidence was reportedly presented to President Nixon at a meeting with his top foreign policy advisors at San Clemente on Tuesday. While American officials involved in compiling the evidence said that it was conclusive, there has been no public acknowledgement by the administration. However, sources here said that a public statement would probably be made, but only after diplomatic contacts in Moscow and Cairo. White House press secretary Ronald L. Ziegler said yesterday, “We are watching the situation very carefully and we are in touch with all the parties involved through diplomatic channels.” He added. “We are in a very delicate period, a very sensitive time. We are in a period that requires quiet diplomacy.”

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