Waldheim on His Way to Geneva by Yitzhak Rabi, JTA UN Correspondent
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Waldheim on His Way to Geneva by Yitzhak Rabi, JTA UN Correspondent

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Secretary General Kurt Waldheim prepared to leave for Geneva tonight after he was informed by the ambassadors of Israel, Egypt and Jordan that their governments will participate in the Middle East peace conference in Geneva; The Syrian UN Ambassador, with whom Waldheim also met today, said he had no instructions from his government. This led to speculation in some quarters that Damascus may yet reverse its decision announced yesterday to boycott the conference.

The latest flurry of activity here followed the receipt by Waldheim yesterday of a letter from the United States and the Soviet Union (identical texts in English and Russian) inviting him to convene the conference in Geneva. The Secretary General immediately handed over copies of the letter to the Israeli, Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian envoys constituting the formal invitation to those countries to attend.

The U.S. Soviet letter said that the conference would be under the auspices of the United Nations and under the co-chairmanship of the U.S. and USSR. It went on to say that the participation of other Middle East parties will be discussed at the first phase of the conference. There was no immediate indication whether this referred to possible Palestinian representation. The letter did not mention how long the first phase would last.

It stipulated, however, that the first phase would be conducted on the foreign ministerial level and will be presided over by Waldheim. The second phase will be on the ambassadorial level. Waldheim was asked in the letter to provide a UN representative for that phase.


While there has been no announcement as yet as to who will represent the UN at the later stages of the Geneva conference, there was speculation here today that it would be Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring

When he departs for Geneva tonight, Waldheim will be accompanied by five UN officials including Undersecretary General Robert Guyer and Assistant Secretary General Brian Urquhart. It was announced today that five security officials from the New York UN headquarters have been sent to Geneva to tighten security measures in preparation for the conference. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned that security officials are investigating reports that Palestinian terrorists may try to gain access to the conference site with forged press credentials.

The letter yesterday inviting Waldheim to convene the conference was handed to him by U.S. Ambassador W. Tapley Bennett Jr. and Soviet Ambassador Yakov Malik. It stated that both countries had been informed by the parties “of their readiness to participate in the conference.” The letter also urged Waldheim to circulate it to members of the Security Council. and concluded; “We believe it will be appropriate for the president of the Security Council to consult informally with the membership with a veil to securing a favorable consensus of the Council. The text of the letter was also released by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s party when they arrived in Madrid.

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