Kissinger: Egypt’s Decision is ‘extremely Unfortunate’

Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said at a press conference in Milwaukee today that Egypt’s decision not to renew the UNEF mandate was “extremely unfortunate” and complicated the prospects of negotiating an interim accord with Israel. He noted at the same time that “we have warned for months that the continuance of stalemate could lead to serious consequences.”

Progress toward a Middle East peace “is going to be difficult and require sacrifices by all parties concerned,” Kissinger said, adding that these sacrifices were “inevitably going to have painful elements.” He said he believed progress had been made and urged Egypt and Israel to bear in mind that the consequences of a breakdown in their talks would be far greater than the sacrifices involved in a new agreement.

It was recalled here that when he suspended his “shuttle” diplomacy in the Middle East last March, Kissinger had similarly warned against the consequences of stalemate and clearly indicated that Israel was more responsible than Egypt for the breakdown of the talks at that time. Subsequently, President Ford stated publicly on several occasions that the U.S. would not tolerate stagnation and stalemate in the Middle East, statements that were widely viewed as direct pressure on Israel to offer greater concessions in the interests of an interim agreement with Egypt.

DINITZ, EILTS TO MEET WITH KISSINGER

State Department spokesman Robert Funseth said today that Kissinger “did not know before hand” of Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmy’s letter to UN Secretary General Kurt Wald helm announcing his government’s decision not to agree to an extension of the UNEF mandate after its expiration July 24. Funseth stated, “As the Secretary has indicated, we will be in close contact with all countries concerned. As already announced in the newspapers, consultations have begun with members of the Security Council,” Funseth said.

He said that “the Secretary is looking forward to seeing (Israeli) Ambassador Simcha Dinitz after his return to the U.S.” but their meeting would take place “probably not before tomorrow.” Dinitz is due back in Washington today. Funseth also announced that the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, Hermann Eilts, arrived here from Cairo last night and would meet with Kissinger this afternoon. He could not say how long Eilts would remain in the U.S.

TIMING COMPLICATES THINGS

Kissinger’s press conference in Milwaukee wound up a three-day tour of the Middle West during which the Secretary delivered major foreign policy speeches in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. He insisted that “there are possibilities for achieving an agreement” in the Middle East despite the Egyptian decision not to renew UNEF but said it depended on the attitude of all sides in the dispute.

Kissinger said of Fahmy’s letter to Waldheim, “We believe the timing of this letter was extremely unfortunate and complicates things.” He said the U.S. was exploring the future of UNEF with the Secretary General and acknowledged that the departure of UN troops from Sinai would “complicate enormously the negotiating possibilities” and “certainly compound and already difficult situation.”

Kissinger expressed much the same reaction to Egypt’s announcement at a press conference in Minneapolis last night. He said “We will have to study precisely what it means,” adding that the Egyptian decision “underlines… the urgency of the problem and the need of working out some interim solution.” Asked about the possibility that U.S. troops might be used in the Sinai buffer zone after a new Israeli withdrawal, Kissinger stated flatly that such a development was impossible.

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