WASHINGTON (Sep. 7)
Despite Israel’s decision yesterday to withdraw from the peace talks under the auspices of Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, U.S. officials here have taken the view that the peace talks are far from hopeless and that Israel’s withdrawal meant only delay rather than a termination. Officials here and at United Nations headquarters in New York were of the opinion that the talks would be resumed at the ministerial level when the Foreign Ministers of Israel and the Arab states arrive in New York beginning Sept. 15 for the opening of the 25th session of the General Assembly. Spokesmen for the administration and the UN based their cautious optimism that the talks would resume on the fact that Israel also declared it would continue to honor the cease-fire truce. At the Western White House in San Clemente, Calif., White House press secretary Ronald Ziegler expressed hope the talks would start soon. “We will continue to make every effort to work out these problems.” he said. Referring to the two elements to the U.S.-sponsored truce agreement–the military standstill and the cease-fire in the Suez Canal area–Mr. Ziegler stated, “We believe both sides should abide by both of them.” According to sources here, the U.S. would undertake a diplomatic effort to ensure that the peace talks do not break down entirely. There are tentative plans for Secretary of State William P. Rogers to confer with Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Anton Atalla when they arrive for the opening of the General Assembly. (During a meeting on Friday in Cairo with the senior American diplomat, Donald C. Bergus, Mr. Riad categorically denied Israeli charges of standstill violations.)
Diplomatic sources noted too that consultations may also take place between the U.S. and Israel later this month when Israeli Premier Golda Meir visits the United States where she is to address the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York on Sept. 20. It is considered likely that Mrs. Meir will confer with President Nixon when she returns to the U.S. again some time in October. Informed sources said that the administration was unable to get assurances during discussions last week with Egyptian and Soviet officials in Cairo and Moscow that truce violations would halt. Israel lodged today her eleventh complaint with the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). State Department spokesman Robert McCloskey said on Friday that U.S. diplomats were “seeking rectification” in Cairo and Moscow but refused to explain what he meant by “rectification.” Other U.S. officials stated their efforts at “rectification” of the standstill violations was a “continuing matter.” UN Secretary General U Thant said on Saturday that the Egyptian violations of the cease-fire and standstill charged by Israel and confirmed by the United States were not a “valid reason” to delay the Mideast peace talks. He said there were two aspects of the problem, “the alleged violation” and “the talks with Dr. Jarring.” Mr. Thant had been asked for comment on Israel’s reported insistence that Egypt draw back the missiles installed since the start of the cease-fire on Aug. 7 before the Jarring talks were resumed.