WASHINGTON (Jan. 24)
The State Department said today that discussions are continuing with Israel toward bringing about so-called “close proximity” talks between Israel and Egypt on an interim agreement to reopen the Suez Canal. Department spokesman Charles Bray said, however, that the US will not pursue the matter with Egypt until its talks with Israel are completed. He disclosed that the chief Egyptian diplomatic representative in Washington, Dr. Ashraf Ghorbal, called on Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joseph J. Sisco when he returned from Cairo last Thursday, but would not say what they discussed.
The current US-Israeli talks have been conducted mainly by Sisco and the Israel Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin. Bray said he would not comment on “speculative stories” appearing in the press on the progress of the talks. State Department sources said today that the US has managed to satisfy Israel with respect to Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ Oct. 4, 1971 address to the UN General Assembly in which he outlined six “parameters” for discussions between Israel and Egypt.
One of Rogers’ points was that there was a possibility of a “compromise” on the question of “an Egyptian military presence east of the (Suez) Canal.” Israel opposed this approach, Jerusalem is now satisfied that Rogers’ parameters did not represent American proposals but were only intended to define the problems that would come up for discussion.