Egyptians, Russians Meeting on Mideast; Soviets Demand Timetable for Withdrawal

A top level Egyptian delegation headed by Vice President All Sabry, arrived in Moscow last night for a week of talks expected to center on the moves to be made when the current cease-fire extension expires on Feb. 5 and on long range questions of political and economic relations between Egypt and Soviet Russia. The dispatch of the delegation coincided with reports of growing impatience in Cairo with the lack of diplomatic progress toward a Mideast peace settlement. The Egyptian military establishment is said to be particularly restless. Before the Sabry delegation departed from Cairo a Soviet Communist Party delegation that has been visiting Egypt for the past 10 days issued a communique demanding that Israel submit a time-table for the withdrawal of its forces from occupied Arab territory. The same demand has been made on previous occasions by President Anwar Sadat who declared that Egypt would not extend the cease-fire a second time unless this condition is met and Israel returns to the Jarring talks. The Communist Party delegation, headed by Boris N. Ponomarev, accused Israel of “procrastination and sabotage” on efforts to achieve a political settlement of the Middle East dispute. The communique assured Egypt of continued Soviet military and political support.

The make-up of the Egyptian delegation to Moscow indicated that a wide range of subjects will be discussed. It includes Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad; War Minister Mohammed Fawzi; and Minister of Industry, Petroleum and Mineral Wealth, Aziz Sidky. Egypt meanwhile appeared to be embarking on a world-wide diplomatic offensive to make its position clear to world opinion and to place the blame for a possible resumption of warfare on Israel. Vice President Hussein el-Shafei is in Yugoslavia consulting with President Tito and other Egyptian officials are traveling to various world capitals. Cairo’s major theme seems to be that it has tried every avenue to a peaceful solution and therefore cannot be held responsible if war is resumed. (The Paris weekly Nouvelle Observateur reported today that King Hussein of Jordan rejected an Egyptian effort to involve him in a new war against Israel. According to the magazine, Hussein was approached unofficially by the Egyptian Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mohammed Sadek last month with a plan for Jordan to launch a diversionary attack on Israel on Feb. 1, five days before the current cease-fire expires, to be followed presumably by an Egyptian attack on the Suez front. Sadek reportedly told Hussein that he was acting with the knowledge of authorities in Cairo. Hussein reportedly turned down the proposal saying he believed Israel could be made to evacuate Arab territory by negotiations.)

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