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Waldheim Predicts Geneva Talks Will Reach Successful Conclusion Soon

Secretary General Kurt Waldheim predicted today that the israeli-Egyptian disengagement talks at Genera would reach a successful conclusion in a few weeks, warned that the second phase of the Geneva. peace conference will be “long and hard” and emphasized that any Middle East peace settlement must contain a solution of the Palestinian problem. Waldheim also said he thought progress at Geneva would ease the energy crisis.

The Secretary General spoke to newsmen at his annual year-end press conference here which was his first since the Geneva talks began Dec. 21. He said there was “a good chance” for the disengagement talks to wind up successfully but that the second phase will last much longer because it will deal with the final “global” settlement in the Middle East.

“It will be a long and hard task, demanding courage, statesmanship and patience,” Waldheim said. “I have no illusions as to the difficulties but I believe that all the parties are determined to succeed.” He described the Geneva conference as “a turning point in this incredibly complex, tragic and difficult problem.” He said he was encouraged because during 1973 he saw “the constructive combination of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy working together at a most critical movement in the Middle East crisis.”

Waldheim observed that the Palestinian question is “very important” to any future settlement in the Middle East. He said that the parties are aware that any solution must take it into consideration “Peace with honor and Justice in the Middle East ” is a goal of vital importance, not only to the parties involved but to the whole international community, Waldheim said.

UN NEEDS BIG POWER SUPPORT

Referring to the UN role in the peace talks. Waldheim stated emphatically that it was not a matter of prestige. “We want to be helpful and we want peace in the Middle East,” he said. He said the constructive role of the UN in the Middle East has been recognized by “all parties.” He repeated “all parties,” an apparent allusion to reports that Israel would be happier with a less substantive and more symbolic role for the UN.

Waldheim conceded, however, that the UN cannot solve the problem alone. “We need the support of the Big Powers,” he said. He indicated that the UN favored “quiet diplomacy” and said he was a firm supporter of “quiet diplomacy” as practiced by U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. He said he didn’t believe that everything has to be done in public and that public discussion of problems sometimes can not contribute to a solution. He observed that “quiet diplomacy” was taking place here and in Geneva and that there are contacts here and in Geneva with the parties and the sponsoring powers.

Discussing the energy crisis, Waldheim said the UN “desires to reconcile the different interests” of the various countries. He said the problem was a global one and should be solved by a global approach. In reply to a question, he said he did not believe the fuel crisis has reached a point where it is a threat to international peace and security, a reference to concern recently expressed in some circles that the Western powers may resort to force to get oil supplies flowing.

Waldheim said he had nothing to report at the meeting on UN efforts to get Syria to provide a list of Israeli prisoners of war or agree to a POW exchange. He said that he has been and still is deeply concerned with that problem Waldheim denied rumors that Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo will be replaced as commander of the Unite Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in the Middle East. He said he saw “a substantial role” for UNEF in a future peace settlement which might include a buffer zone to keep the two sides separated. He said that enlargement of the UNEF forces would depend on developments at the Geneva talks but if proves necessary it will be done. (By Yitzhak Rabi)

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