GENEVA (Dec. 19)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmi said here today that he is attending the peace conference in order to secure “a total Israel withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories and the respect of the national rights of the Palestinian people.” The Egyptian Minister, who arrived here this afternoon, is the first to reach Geneva where the peace conference is due to open Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko arrived here a little later.
Fahmi said that the Middle East situation is still highly explosive and the cease-fire “fragile.” He said that his delegation would seek to have the conference implement the United Nations resolution dealing with the Middle East and said that they would expect “tangible results.” Gromyko, who arrived from Moscow with a large party of diplomatic and Mideast experts, said that the Soviet Union “will firmly support the just struggle of the Arab people and will seek a settlement of the Middle East problem on the basis of the implementation of “the relevant United Nations decision.”
Gromyko said that the Soviet delegation to the conference will “do everything possible to facilitate the successful work of the peace conference” and appealed to all the participants “to show good will and a sense of realism.” Observers here noted that neither minister mentioned the disengagement of forces on the Suez Canal which, Egyptian sources here say, is an urgent and crucial issue for Cairo.
Fahmi and Gromyko are due to meet tonight to Iron out a joint strategy for the conference. Gromyko is due to meet tomorrow night with U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger who is expected in Geneva tomorrow evening. The Israeli delegation, led by Foreign Minister Abba Eban, is also expected here tomorrow evening.