Rogers: Interim Canal Accord a Major Step Toward Mideast Peace; Mum on Eban’s Five-point Proposal

Riad: Rogers’ Proposal ‘Vague’:

Eban: ‘Nothing Unexpected’

United States Secretary of State William P. Rogers urged today an interim Suez Canal agreement as a “third major step toward peace” in the Middle East to follow Security Council Resolution 242 and the Suez Canal cease-fire. Such an agreement is “essential,” he told the General Assembly, for four reasons: because it is “a step which can be taken now, a step that is practical, a step that could help create the confidence and trust which are now lacking, (and) a step toward full and complete implementation of Resolution 242.” Despite the “commitment” of both the Arabs and the Israelis to Resolution 242 and the United Nations peace mission of Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring of Sweden, Rogers observed, “a deep gulf of suspicion and distrust remains.”

Progress, he told the Assembly, “is urgently required.” Rogers did not refer to Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s five-point proposal made during his address last Thursday to the Assembly which included direct talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad. Rogers Listed eight reasons for what he called the “practical” and “logical” reopening of the canal. It would “make the next step toward peace less difficult for all the parties to take, restore the use of the Suez Canal as a waterway for international shipping, reestablish Egypt’s authority over a major national asset, separate the combatants, produce the first Israeli withdrawal, extend the cease-fire, diminish the risk of major power involvement and be an important step toward the complete implementation of Resolution 242.”

EGYPT INSISTS ON PRE-CONDITION

After Rogers spoke. Eban told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent that he had found “nothing unexpected” in the address. Eban said he would “certainly agree” with the importance of an interim agreement, but suggested that Rogers’ relegation of his Middle East remarks to the end of his speech indicated a “decrease of urgency.” Eban planned to confer with Rogers later today and hold a press conference this evening. Riad said separately that Rogers’ proposal was “vague” in its linking of an interim pact to Resolution 242 and the Jarring mission. “I don’t see it.” Riad told newsmen.

“It’s a first step–where’s the second step? What about the last step–when, how, where? The first should be connected with the second. You can’t make the first step without knowing what will be the second. It’s a package. There should be one agreement.” After his press conference, Riad told the JTA correspondent that he would not accept Eban’s proposal for an Eban-Riad meeting in New York this month without an a priori pledge of Israeli withdrawal from all of the Sinai. Asked if that did not constitute a pre-condition, Riad replied: “We should have pre-conditions regarding our sovereignty, no doubt about it. The sovereignty of our territories cannot be discussed.” Riad is scheduled to address the Assembly on Wednesday.

ROGERS STRESSES ISRAELI CONCESSIONS

Although Rogers declared that the United States was interested in satisfying the requirements of both sides through “a political settlement based on mutual accomodation.” he appeared to stress Israeli concessions. He referred twice to the principle of Israeli withdrawal and once to the possibility of a “compromise” on the question of “an Egyptian military presence east of the canal.” But on the matter of borders, he commented that “Each (side) is concerned about its future security.” There was no mention of demilitarization of the Sinai or of Israeli sovereignty.

Rogers said that “both sides must have confidence that the agreement will not be violated,” but did not recall that the cease-fire was immediately violated by Egypt last August when she moved missiles closer to the canal–a development that the US at first persistently denied and then reluctantly admitted. Eban, Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah and Riad listened to Rogers’ speech from their Assembly seats. Egyptian Ambassador Mohammed H. el-Zayyat, who was not present when Eban spoke, was absent again. A British spokesman declined immediate comment on Rogers’ address, but said an Eban-Riad meeting at this time was “not politically possible.”

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