Big Four Deputies Suspend Talks at Behest of U.s.; Cease-fire Violations Cited

The deputy ambassadors of the Big Four suspended their series of meetings today at the behest of the United States because “serious and continuing violations of the standstill (cease-fire) agreement on the west side of the Suez Canal have raised doubts whether there is a sincere desire for peace and have created an obstacle to resumption of negotiations under Ambassador Jarring.” The Big Four, however, will continue to meet. Announcement of the suspension was made in identical statements Issued by the U.S. United Nations Mission here and by State Department spokesman John King in Washington. U.S. sources said that the deputies had met for an hour and a quarter at U.S. Mission headquarters this morning and then suspended further meetings on the recommendation of U.S. Deputy Ambassador Christopher H. Phillips. According to sources there was some disagreement among the deputies over the suspension. The deputies of the permanent UN representatives of the United States, the Soviet Union. Britain and France were assigned the task last March 31 of drafting a memorandum of the agreements and disagreements between the Four Powers in their continuing deliberations on a solution of the Middle East conflict.

The U.S. statement issued here and in Washington declared that “The United States is not suspending participation in the Four Power meetings at the level of permanent representatives and will take part on the next such meeting scheduled for Oct. 12.” The statement continued. “We are determined, however, to keep our efforts at helping to bring peace to the Middle East focussed clearly on the realities of the situation and will not mislead ourselves or others by substituting form for substance.” (Elaborating on that point in Washington, State Department spokesman King said, “unless there is some prospect for accomplishing something there is no point to holding a meeting.” In response to another question, Mr. King said “We believe that rectification (of the cease-fire violations) will help clear the way for talks” but, he said he could not give a “timetable” for their resumption.) Observers here said that in today’s statement the U.S. has gone virtually all the way in upholding the Israeli position on Egyptian truce violations and was insisting, in the strongest terms thus far, in a roll-back of Soviet missiles from the cease-fire zone before talks under Dr. Jarring can resume.

The suspension of the Big Four deputies talks was regarded as a more symbolic than substantive gesture because the deputies assignment is not directly related to the situation in the Suez cease-fire zone. But it clearly toughened the U.S. position on the truce violations. The American statement said, “So long as there is no rectification of this situation which would make possible a resumption of talks under Ambassador Jarring, we see no possibility of bridging the gaps that still separate the Four Powers on certain important points of Security Council Resolution 242. Even if agreement on guidelines for Ambassador Jarring were possible, they would be of no use to him at this time. For this reason the United States believes the Four Power deputies meetings should be suspended for the time being until circumstances warrant their resumption.” The U.S. statement was prefaced with the declaration that “The United States remains completely dedicated to the goal of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East based on implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967 in all its parts. Moreover, we continue to subscribe to the concept of Four Power meetings as set forth in the communique issued by the four participants in New York on Dec. 2, 1969. However,” the statement went on, “We believe that the Four Powers should at this time accord first priority to creating a situation in which it will be possible for negotiations to resume under the auspices of Ambassador Jarring.”

NEXT STORY