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Thant Urges Extension of Cease-fire, ‘optimistic’ on Jarring Talks ‘progress’

Secretary General Thant has formally called on Egypt, Jordan and Israel “to withhold fire, to exercise military restraint, and to maintain the quiet which has prevailed in the (Middle East) area since August (8), 1970.” In a statement dated yesterday and released today. Thant said that while the peace talks under Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring were “still at an early stage” and “much further clarification is required,” he nevertheless said he found “grounds for cautious optimism in the fact that the parties have resumed the talks through Ambassador Jarring in a serious manner and that there has been some progress in the definition of their positions.” At a news conference here Jan. 18, Thant said he and Dr. Jarring were “cautiously optimistic,” but he did not at that time specifically urge a cease-fire extension beyond Feb. 5.

The Secretary General’s new statement had been forecast by observers here who saw it as the only development that would allow Egypt to save face in agreeing to a cease-fire extension, as President Answer Sadat has said repeatedly he would not lengthen the truce without evidence of progress. Israel’s position is that she is observing the indefinite cease-fire declared by the Security Council in June, 1967. In recommending an extension, Thant noted that “the parties, who have already indicated their willingness to carry out Resolution 242 (of Nov. 22, 1967), are now describing in greater detail their view of their obligations under that resolution.” He appealed to them to “pursue their role in the discussions in a constructive manner and to “cooperate with Ambassador Jarring with a view to the carrying out of Resolution 242.” The ambassadors of the countries involved–Egypt’s Mohammed H. el-Zayyat, Jordan’s Muhammad H. el-Farra and Israel’s Yosef Tekoah–withheld immediate comment pending a study of the Thant statement. In the first paragraph of his four-paragraph report, Thant recalled that on Jan. 4 “I was able to note that it had been possible to arrange for the resumption of the discussions.” In the second paragraph he recalled that the talks resumed Jan. 5, and in the third paragraph he noted that each of the parties had subsequently “presented papers containing their…views” on implementation of Resolution 242.

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