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Tekoah-jarring Meeting Marks Opening of Renewed Talks; Thant to Report to Council

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After four and a half months of acrimony and delay, the Middle East peace talks were seen by observers here today as resuming tomorrow with a meeting between United Nations mediator Gunnar V. Jarring and Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah. The latter left Tel Aviv this morning after commenting that he would be seeing Dr. Jarring tomorrow. Meanwhile, similar journeys were being undertaken from Cairo and Amman by Egyptian Ambassador Mohammed H. el-Zayyat and Jordanian Ambassador Muhammad H. el-Farra. When the aborted peace talks got under way in August, Israel designated Tekoah as her “alternate” participant–that is, to handle the preliminaries for Israel’s chief participant, Foreign Minister Abba Eban. Israel prefers that the talks eventually reach the foreign Minister level, but Egypt and Jordan have never named participants above the ambassadorial level. Furthermore, there were reports today that Dr. Farra would himself be temporarily represented, as in August, by Jordan’s envoy to Washington, Abdul H. Sharaf. The negotiations will be resuming in an atmosphere of pessimism. Israeli, Premier Golda Meir said last week that “If (the Arabs) are coming to the Jarring talks in a mood of serving us ultimatums and timetables, this is the blueprint for the failure of the talks.”

At the same time, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was insisting on immediate Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories–an interpretation of Security Council Resolution 242 that Israel and the United State have consistently rejected–and rejecting diplomatic relations with Israel during his administration. Observers were putting their hopes for progress in an assumption that the Meir and Sadat remarks were just political verbiage. In a flurry of pre-negotiation activity over the New Year’s weekend, Dr. Jarring arrived in New York Saturday night, met with Secretary General Thant yesterday and today, conferred last night with Secretary of State William P, Rogers and Assistant Secretary Joseph J. Sisco, and was considered a possible participant in a consultation here this afternoon between Thant, Rogers, Sisco and outgoing U.S. envoy Charles W. Yost. Thant’s report to the Security Council on Mideast peace progress, required by tomorrow, was being printed up here today for public release tomorrow morning. Argentina, Belgium, Italy, Japan and Somalia became members of the Council as of Jan. 1, replacing Colombia, Finland, Nepal, Spain and Zambia. Observers have noted that Belgium, Italy and Japan are more pro-Israel than any three of the outgoing members, although Israeli and Egyptian officials have maintained publicity that the attitude of the 15-members panel will not be significantly changed with the realignment.

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