Israel Welcomes Waldheim’s Visit to the Middle East

Official circles here welcomed United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim’s announcement Friday that he will visit the Middle East to try to end the Arab-Israeli-deadlock. The circles confirmed that there had been contacts between Jerusalem and the UN on the subject of a Waldheim visit though no firm date has been set.

Waldheim said Friday that he was going to the region at the initial invitation of the Egyptian government and that the Israeli and Jordanian governments had agreed to receive him while he is in the Mideast. He said he would also visit Lebanon, Syria and other countries in the region if their governments agreed.

Israeli circles stressed that they welcomed Waldheim’s visit purely in his capacity as Secretary General of the UN and did not consider it a new or “surprise” mission he was undertaking. They approved of a UN spokesman’s statement that the purpose of the Secretary General’s visit was “to make an assessment of the situation and have face-to-face talks with the various leaders.”

CAIRO, AMMAN, ALSO GREET VISIT

Waldheim’s impending visit, the first to Middle East by a UN Secretary General since U Thant visited the region in May, 1967, was also favorably greeted in Amman and Cairo. The Arabs apparently view the trip as an adjunct to the Security Council’s general review and debate on the Middle East which adjourned last month and was tentatively scheduled to be resumed this week. Israeli circles have made it clear that they would prefer that the debate, fruitless up to now would be abandoned at least for the time being and be replaced by Waldheim’s initiative.

Waldheim, according to UN sources over the week-end, regards further debate by the Security Council at this time to be futile. The Secretary General remarked recently that the Mideast problem is “much too complicated, much too difficult and much too complex to be solved by another round of the Security Council.” Last week he observed that “quiet diplomacy” might be needed to achieve any progress in resolving the Mideast conflict.

It was announced over the week-end that the Security Council debate which was to have been resumed tomorrow has been postponed “for a few days.” Diplomatic circles at the UN could not say whether the debate would now be delayed until Waldheim’s return from the Middle East or resume as scheduled while the Secretary General was meeting with heads of state in the region. Kenneth D. Jamieson, the British Ambassador who is Security Council president this month said over the week-end that the Egyptian government which initiated the debate still wanted the sessions resumed as planned.

NEXT STORY