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Talks Officially Open; Thant Reports to Security Council, Hopes Talks Will Be Fruitful

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Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring made it official today when he announced through a spokesman that the Middle East peace talks under his auspices had “resumed” this morning–after a 131-day delay. To mark the occasion, Dr. Jarring broke from practice and disclosed his agenda for the day: a morning meeting with Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah and an afternoon meeting with Egyptian Ambassador Mohamed H. el-Zayyat. Tekoah emerged from his half-hour conference and declined to say anything. No appointments were set today with a Jordanian representative. Secretary General Thant was scheduled to meet with Dr. Zayyat late this afternoon. Thant’s eagerly awaited report on Mideast peace progress made its appearance on schedule today. It is a 40-page document in which the Secretary General’s most substantial comments are that “in the last few days it has become possible to arrange for the resumption of the discussions” and that “I hope that these resumed discussions will be fruitful.”

The bulk of the report to the Security Council consists of a chronology of Dr. Jarring’s activities from Dec. 9, 1967, through yesterday; the major Mideast parties’ replies to 14 questions posed by Dr. Jarring in March, 1969, dealing with the countries positions on the various provisions of Security Council Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967; the parties’ responses to Dr. Jarring’s Nov. 18, 1970, invitation to resume negotiations; and a re-statement of the text of Resolution 242. (In Jerusalem today, political circles cautioned that the replies to Dr. Jarring’s queries were made 21 months ago and should be viewed in that context.) Thant said through a spokesman today that his hour-long consultation here yesterday evening with Secretary of State William P. Rogers had been “useful”–the word he usually employs in lien of specific comment. Rogers–joined by Assistant Secretary Joseph J. Sisco and UN Ambassador Charles W. Yost–also conferred for 90 minutes yesterday with Dr. Jarring. Rogers told newsmen afterwards that “the emphasis should be on the parties themselves,” and that for its part the United States continued to favor “quiet diplomacy.”

EBAN WELCOMES NIXON’S PLEDGE FOR MIDEAST BALANCE; NIXON: KEY TO PEACE IN BIG FOUR

(In Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Abba Eban welcomed President Nixon’s reaffirmation last night of American intentions to maintain the Mideast military balance and Nixon’s call on the Soviet Union to start waging peace before the Mideast blows up, Other Israeli Officials noted that Nixon made no mention of the Dec. 9, 1969 Rogers plan–anathema to Israel–for virtually total withdrawal from the occupied territories.) In a one-hour, nationally televised, informal “live” interview in Washington, D.C. Nixon said a formal alliance with Israel was not “either necessary or…in the interest of peace,” but declared: “(W)hat we are doing for Israel is so well known to them–and also, incidentally, it’s quite well known to their neighbors–that it provides the balance that is needed…We have made it clear time and again that we would help to maintain the balance of power in the area so that Israel would not be in a position that its neighbors could overwhelm them with their superior manpower or with the forces that they got from the Soviet Union.”

Nixon said the next few months would be “critical” for the Mideast, and said he hoped “we may get these talks off dead center, make some progress toward a live-and-let-live attitude: Not progress that’s going to bring a situation where the Israelis and their neighbors are going to like each other–that isn’t ever going to happen perhaps–but where they will live with each other, where they won’t be fighting each other.” He added that “to speculate about what’s going to happen in the event that Israel is going to go down the tube would only tend to inflame the situation with Israel’s neighbors, and I won’t do it.” The President said further that “the key to peace is in the hands of…the four major powers”–a remark that appeared to contradict Secretary Rogers’ Comment here at about the same time that the emphasis should be on the Mideast parties. “If the Soviet Union does not play a conciliatory peace-making role,” Nixon went on, “there’s no chance for peace in the Mideast.” At another point he said a U.S.-Soviet summit meeting now would be in nobody’s interest and would “create a false sense of security.”

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