ROME (Feb. 6)
United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim declared here yesterday that the American initiative to promote close proximity talks between Egypt and Israel for an interim Sues accord was doomed to failure and claimed that the “only possibility” for a peaceful solution of the Middle East conflict lay in UN mediation through the instrumentality of the Secretary General’s special Mideast envoy, Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring.
Waldheim made his remarks at a press conference following an audience with Pope Paul VI and a meeting with Dr. Jarring who recently returned from talks with African leaders on the Middle East problem. Waldheim said the latest news regarding an interim Suez agreement is far from encouraging. He said it was most probable that an interim accord would not become effective. The reason for its probable failure, he said, was that one of the parties (Israel) prefers American mediation which is connected with an arms deal while the other party prefers UN mediation.
“We shall insist on having United Nations mediation through the UN mediator, Dr. Jarring, and on reenforcing this mediation which is the only possibility for a peaceful solution,” he said. Questioned about the escalating arms race in the Mideast, Waldheim stressed that all efforts must be channelled toward peace negotiations and that the supply of arms to the region may be considered contrary to these aims and maybe even to the UN Charter.
Waldheim said that his lengthy audience with the Pope included a “tour d’horizon” of all the problems which concern the Middle East situation, including the problem of holy sites. He described his talks with Pope Paul as “extremely useful.” He said Dr. Jarring would probably resume his mission next week when he returns to New York after a brief stay in Moscow where he is Sweden’s envoy. Waldheim was scheduled to return today to UN headquarters in New York.