UNITED NATIONS, N. Y. (Feb. 3)
Governments consulted, diplomats fretted and the world waited hopefully today for indications that the Middle East truce–which runs out at 6 a.m. (EST) Friday, midnight Thursday in Cairo–will be extended, even if only on a de facto basis. Although a new Egyptian letter yesterday afternoon to mediator Gunnar V. Jarring and to the Security Council contended that Israel has been blatantly intransigent, a United Nations spokesman said yesterday afternoon and again today that no Security Council meeting has been scheduled for this week. While Egypt has never formally requested such a meeting, there have been reports that it would do so if it felt there were no other way to effect a dramatic development in the peace talks–Cairo having insisted that without progress there would be no cease-fire extension. With no Council meeting scheduled only hours away from the truce cut-off, some diplomats were hopeful that, despite its public rhetoric, Egypt will agree to a truce extension in principle if not in writing. (There were reports today that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat will make a speech in Cairo tomorrow.) The UN spokesman added today that he had no indications that Secretary General Thant would issue before Friday a statement adding to yesterday’s call for a truce extension.
In yesterday’s letter to Dr. Jarring and to Security Council president Charles W. Yost of the United States, Egyptian Ambassador Mohammed H. el-Zayyat charged that “Israel continues in its refusal to implement the Security Council Resolution (242 of Nov. 22, 1967), since Israel does not commit itself to withdrawal from all Arab territories it occupied in June, 1967.” The resolution, Israel has stressed, refers to “territories occupied.” not “all territories occupied.” Dr. Zayyat also charged that Israel has expressed “rejection of just and lasting peace” by not endorsing Egypt’s proposals for a Big Four peacekeeping force and demilitarized zones prior to a peace settlement. In addition, Dr. Zayyat asserted, Israel persists in “a policy of repression, expulsion and collective punishment” against the residents of the occupied Arab areas. A United States spokesman here declined to comment on the Egyptian letter, noting only that “we are still hopeful that quiet diplomacy will continue at a low roar.” State Departments spokesman Robert J. McCloskey confirmed in Washington today that Secretary of State William P. Rogers and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad had exchanged three letters in recent weeks. The third reply from Riad arrived today, he said, describing it only as a “preliminary” statement. McCloskey rejected suggestions that Arab-American oil arrangements were collapsing as a result of recent developments in the Mideast.