WASHINGTON (Oct. 7)
Diplomatic circles speculated today on how far the United States intends to go in its new tough line toward Moscow following U.S. withdrawal yesterday from the Big Four deputies talks at the United Nations in New York over cease-fire standstill violations. State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey disclosed today that the British and French deputies had been informed of the move a “few days” before U.S. Deputy Ambassador Christopher H. Phillips formally asked for a suspension of the talks because the truce violations by Egypt “have raised doubts whether there is a sincere desire for peace.” Mr. McCloskey’s disclosure contradicted published reports that the British and French as well as the Soviet representatives were “surprised” by the American act. The Russians were deliberately not informed in advance, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today. When asked why, a State Department spokesman told the JTA Washington correspondent, because “we chose not to.” Diplomats here do not doubt that the Soviets were aware of the impending American break-off as soon as their British and French colleagues were informed. But their exclusion from the advance notice represented a sharp rebuff by the U.S.
Observers here agree that the U.S. now appears determined to bring about what the State Department cautiously refers to as a “rectification” of the cease-fire violations. They are wondering whether suspension of the deputies talks was an isolated gesture or the first step in a diplomatic pressure campaign that could affect the Four Power Mideast talks and even areas of negotiation between the U.S. and the USSR unrelated to the Mideast. The U.S. is known to have been unhappy with the lack of progress among the Big Four and resentful of the fact that Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ Mideast peace initiative of last spring remained a unilateral move only passively supported by the other three powers. The deputies were assigned the task on March 31 of drafting a memorandum detailing the points of agreement and disagreement among the Four Powers. But they have been unable to produce anything because of Soviet obstruction on key points. U.S. sources acknowledged that the Soviet position had been clear for months and was not viewed as a cause for suspending the deputies’ meetings. The U.S. made it clear that it will remain with the Four Power talks and will attend their next session scheduled for Oct. 12. But this could be little more than a formality intended to keep the machinery in operation.
The U.S. has not spelled out publicly what it means by “rectification.” Egypt claims that the missiles now in the standstill cease-fire zone were there when the truce began Aug. 7 so there can be no question of rectification. The Russians support the Egyptians while the British and French have offered no support for the American position. There was no indication today of how long the impasse will continue. Israel appeared to be highly satisfied by the American action and in no hurry to get the peace talks going under UN envoy Gunnar V. Jarring. One source said today that the U.S. may agree to regard a partial withdrawal of missiles from the truce zone as satisfying its demand for rectification. The withdrawal would be unannounced to save face for the Egyptians and Russians but would have to be confirmed by aerial reconnaissance before the peace talks got moving, provided Israel agreed. Mr. McCloskey announced today that Secretary Rogers will meet with Israeli foreign Minister Abba Eban in Washington next week. Mr. Rogers will be at the UN in New York from Oct. 16-24. He is scheduled to meet with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei F. Gromyko. There was no word today as to whether Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad will be in New York at the same time.