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Waldheim Says Mideast Visit Gave Him New Insight into Area’s Problems

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UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim said today that his visit to the Middle East this month had given him “a new insight” into the problems of that region and that he considered the personal contacts he made with the leaders of four Arab countries and Israel “very important.”

Waldheim read a statement and answered questions at a press conference this morning, one that he holds every year on the eve of the opening of the General Assembly’s fall session. “My intention is to continue these personal contacts during the General Assembly,” he said, adding, “I feel that this is a very sound approach.”

But Waldheim was no more optimistic over an early break in the Middle East deadlock than when he began his visit to the region. He reiterated what he said at that time–that he did not go to the Mideast with the intention of solving the problem and did not bring any specific proposals. Nor, apparently did he receive any on the trip that took him to Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.

He said that no formal proposals were made by any of the government leaders with respect to a Middle East peace conference, although “ideas about a peace conference were exchanged. He said he was impressed by “the positive attitudes” of the governments and found a desire for peace among them.

JARRING’S ROLE REMAINS UNCHANGED

Waldheim said there was no change as far as his special representative to the Middle East, Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, is concerned. He said that he had briefed Dr. Jarring on his visit and would continue to keep him informed of developments because Dr. Jarring still has a role to play. He noted that Dr. Jarring would be attending the General Assembly session.

Waldheim said that while in the Middle East he had a chance to see at first hand how the UN is working to prevent a further escalation of the conflict and how it is rendering assistance to the people who suffered from the conflict, an apparent reference to the Palestinian refugees. He described the summit conference of 76 non-aligned nations in Algiers which he visited after leaving the Middle East as “most important” and noted that those nations are strong supporters of the UN.

The General Assembly session which opens tomorrow will continue for 13 weeks and deal with 104 items (not 94 as reported yesterday). The first order of business will be the election of the Ecuadorian Ambassador, Leopold Benites, as President of the Assembly.

The Assembly is expected to spend tomorrow and most of Wednesday hearing statements in the admission of the two Germany to the UN. East German Foreign Minister Otto-Winzer will head his government’s delegation and Foreign Minister Walter Scheel will head the West German delegation. Both will address the Assembly Wednesday morning.

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