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Sisco Concedes He Failed to Achieve Breakthrough in Talks with Israelis

Joseph J. Sisco, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said tonight that he had not achieved a breakthrough in his talks this week with Israeli leaders, but noted that he had not expected to. “The talks were practical and concrete in nature and were held in the spirit of openness and friendship.” Sisco said at a brief press conference in the American Embassy. “In particular,” he continued,” I explored together with your government a number of ideas relevant to an interim Suez Canal settlement. This was an in-depth discussion, exploratory in nature. I expected no decisive breakthroughs; none were achieved.” But Sisco added that “we each know more clearly the limits, the possibilities, the perils and the opportunity which exists in the present situation in the area,” and that “while there are differences between the two sides still to be resolved, we believe that a practical basis for future progress is an interim Suez Canal agreement, which can be achieved.” The State Department official noted that at Saturday’s end the cease-fire “resulting from American initiative” will be one year old.

“In this connection,” he said, “there is one simple message I want to leave to the Israeli government and the Israeli people: An interim Suez Canal settlement continues to be the best way to insure that relative quiet will continue and spare the people of the area the anguish and heartbreak of loss of live.” The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned that at an American-Israeli meeting earlier today in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. Sisco raised the question of the preferential trade agreement between Israel and the European Common Market. He pointed out that such an agreement is contrary to the articles of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), of which Israel is a member. It was understood by the Israeli side that the American was raising the issue in connection with the U.S. balance of payments in countries having Common Market contracts. Israel, in turn, raised the point that Trans-World Airlines has far more flights between the U.S. and Israel than does El Al. Israel’s national airline, and that Israel wants landing rights in cities other than New York. In reply to Sisco’s query as to Israel’s position on the admission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations, the Israelis said their government had not yet formulated a stand. Among those attending the meeting were American Ambassador Walworth Barbour and Israel’s envoys to the U.S. and the UN. Yitzhak Rabin and Yosef Tekoah.

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