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To Defuse Debate: Waldheim Recommends Terrorism Issue Be Shifted from Assembly to Committee

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In a move that is expected to defuse debate over the question of terrorism at the 27th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary General Kurt Waldheim has recommended that the issue be initially referred to the Assembly’s Sixth Committee, which handles legal matters. Waldheim had originally proposed that the matter be taken up directly by the entire Assembly.

UN observers noted that the switch would take the issue out of the spotlight of the full Assembly and “cool” the debate, It is also understood that the Secretary General now feels the subject can get more detailed treatment in the Sixth Committee than if it were to come directly to general debate in the Assembly.

By the same token, though, observers noted that the controversial item could get bogged down in committee, where it could be prevented from ever reaching the whole Assembly. But one UN source said the Sixth Committee is a “very respectable committee” and Waldheim’s move should not be interpreted as an effort to “kill” the item. The source nevertheless doubted that any UN resolution would be strong enough to put an end to terrorism. The UN is not “the organ to deal effectively with terror warfare,” the source contended.

SENSITIVE ISSUE FOR MANY NATIONS

The proposed item, which is being sponsored by the Secretary General, is entitled “Measures to prevent terrorism and other forms of violence which endanger or take innocent human lives or jeopardize fundamental freedoms.” It could result in a resolution calling for government action to reduce the incidents of such violence. Thus, it is a sensitive issue not only for Arab states, which might be required to curb terrorists operating from within their borders, but also for other nations, such as the United States, which have been plagued by airplane hijackings.

A Western source, commenting on Waldheim’s move, said proceeding through the Sixth Committee is “a more orderly and a neater way of doing it.” Actual inclusion of the item on the agenda of the current Assembly session is to be decided by the Assembly’s General Committee later today or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a UN spokesman indicated today that the Mideast peace-keeping mission of UN special envoy Gunnar V. Jarring is continuing. Jarring arrived at the UN earlier this week, the spokesman said, and will be meeting with the parties involved in the conflict. Dr. Jarring is also expected to confer with Waldheim as well as with representatives of other governments interested in effecting a peace settlement. As during past General Assembly sessions, Dr. Jarring’s schedule of appointments is not being made public.

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