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Waldheim: Chances for Mideast Peace Bleak; Urges Jarring Mission Resumption

Secretary General Kurt Waldheim reiterated today that the attempts to reach an interim Suez Canal agreement seemed hopeless and that the only responsible recourse was to resume the negotiations under the aegis of the United Nations and its special Middle East representative, Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring. The chances for success on an interim pact are “not too bright, for the time being at least,” he told newsmen at what he conceded was an “unusual” appearance by a Secretary General at a regular noon press briefing.

He was present, he said of his 40-minute news conference, because he felt it was “my duty” to brief the press as soon as possible on his impressions of his visits with African leaders and with Pope Paul VI in Rome. His earlier announced press conference, postponed from Feb. 3, will be held Thursday morning. In Rome on Saturday, he said an interim agreement was doomed to failure and that the Jarring mission held the “only possibility” for an accommodation. (See Page 3 for US reaction.)

In defending his emphasis on the Jarring mission, the Austrian diplomat said today he “had the impression” that the report of the Organization of African Unity–which contended there was a basis for negotiations–has aided progress toward a Mideast peace. In this connection, in response to a question by the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Waldheim rejected the contention that Israel’s willingness to engage in “proximity” talks with Egypt indicated more progress on an interim pact than on the overall pact sought by the Jarring mission.

Noting that Egypt has so far refused to participate in such talks, Waldheim observed that as long as both parties do not agree to a resumption of negotiations “it probably will result in some difficulties.” He then pointed out that “both parties agreed to a resumption of Jarring’s mission.”

But Waldheim stressed that “of course, we have to be realistic,” as the Mideast situation is “very serious” and the chances for peace “are not the best.” He made a point of noting that there was no special significance in Dr. Jarring’s having gone from Africa to Moscow, where he is the Swedish ambassador, instead of to UN headquarters. “He will continue his mission,” the Secretary General said. “I want to make that quite clear.”

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