WASHINGTON (Oct. 14)
The upcoming talks of Secretary of State William P. Rogers with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad are regarded by diplomatic sources here as crucial to the future of the Suez Canal cease-fire and the stalled Jarring peace talks. Mr. Rogers will have his first meeting with Mr. Gromyko on Friday. Mr. Riad addresses the United Nations General Assembly Friday and is expected to meet with Secretary Rogers that day. The Secretary of State is expected to confront the Soviet and Egyptian diplomats with the issue of cease-fire violations in the Suez standstill zone. Informed Israeli sources here say the positions of the U.S. and Israel on this matter have never been closer. Both insist that the Russians and Egyptians must acknowledge that the violations exist, something they have publicly denied up to now. But the U.S. and Israeli positions are, admittedly, not identical. Israel has demanded restoration of the military status quo that existed before the truce went into effect on Aug. 7. The U.S. has spoken of “rectification” but has refused to define that term in the cease-fire context. According to Israeli sources, the differing concepts of “restoration” and “rectification” have so far been avoided in discussions between the U.S. and Israel. But they are considered likely to come up as a practical matter in the talks between Mr. Rogers and the Soviet and Egyptian ministers. The Russians are expected to ask bluntly what the U.S. and Israel would “settle for?”
Officially. Israel will settle for nothing less than complete withdrawal of all of the missiles it claims Egypt has introduced to the standstill zone after the truce went into effect. Some observers believe the U.S. might settle for a token withdrawal as evidence of good faith. The Israeli Embassy here has gone out of its way to deny a recent television news report that Israel was softening its attitude on a missile roll-back. The Embassy declared that Israel’s position was unchanged. Informed Israeli sources here go to great lengths to emphasize that Jerusalem and Washington are in fundamental accord. They say there has been no pressure on Israel to return to the Jarring talks and that Secretary Rogers expressed to Foreign Minister Abba Eban at their meeting yesterday U.S. understanding of a sympathy with Israel’s position on the cease-fire violations. Both Israel and the U.S. want the cease-fire to continue beyond its Nov. 5 deadline, the sources say. They note that Israel-U.S. solidarity has already weathered such crises as the Jordanian civil war and President Nasser’s death. The Israelis acknowledge that the U.S. is anxious for the Jarring talks to resume and will not jeopardize prospects for their resumption. But the U.S. has accepted Israel’s view that the Egyptians and Russians cannot have both the talks and the military advantages gained through their cease-fire violations.
The U.S. agrees with Israel that the violations are the main obstacles to the talks and must be removed. The Israelis contend that the U.S. is not overly concerned by the hiatus in the talks because they would have been suspended now in any event had they been in progress at the time of Nasser’s death. Israelis are less concerned by the verbal offensive coming out of Cairo since Nasser died than with the anticipated Arab political offensive in the UN. The Israelis recognize that the post-Nasser leadership in Egypt must affirm its loyalty and adherence to Nasser doctrines for internal reasons. Arab rhetoric in Cairo or in the General Assembly is not overly disturbing as long as the Arabs do not seek to alter the Security Council’s Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967. Israeli sources expect an attempt by Egypt to amend the resolution or draft a collateral one in which Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories will be stressed. Israel believes the U.S. would veto such a resolution in the Security Council or persuade its friends to oppose it if it came up in the General Assembly. According to the Israeli view, the U.S. will not tolerate any tampering with resolution 242 because it is the basis of the American peace initiative in the Mideast. The Israelis also believe that the Russians place too much value on resolution 242 which is acceptable both to themselves and to the U.S., to allow it to be drastically altered.