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Waldheim Says Prospects for Mideast Peace Talks This Year Look Good

Secretary General Kurt Waldheim told the Security Council today that prospects for reconvening Middle East peace talks this year were good but they required changes in attitude on both sides.

In his report to the Council on his recent Middle East trip to explore the possibilities of resuming peace talks, Waldheim emphasized that he had no doubt that all parties concerned “are honestly desirous of moving toward a negotiated settlement.” But he warned that if this opportunity is not seized, “there are grave dangers that the situation will deteriorate once again with incalculable consequences, not only for the Middle East but for the international community as a whole.”

The Secretary General, who met last week with President Carter in Washington, said that the U.S. has found a consensus that all concerned should work toward reconvening the Geneva conference in the second half of 1977.

With respect to the changes of attitude, he said, “Such changes would involve mutual recognition of the legitimacy of the claims of the different parties in suitable forms with adequate guarantees and an effort on all sides to define clearly the shape of an ultimate peace settlement in the Middle East.” He added:

“Obviously, the attitude of the PLO toward Israel as reflected in the Palestine National Charter (formerly called the Covenant) and the attitude of Israel to the PLO and the nature and context of the Palestinian entity in a future settlement are among the key issues where adjustments of attitude will have an important bearing on the prospects of success of the peace conference.”

Waldheim said he would continue to maintain contacts with the parties and the two co-chairmen of the Geneva conference, the U.S. and USSR “in order to keep myself informed of their positions in the light of developments since my visit to the Middle East.”

Sources here said today that the Security Council meeting to discuss Waldheim’s report, originally scheduled this month, may not take place. They said the U.S. did not favor such a meeting at this time on grounds that it would be counter-productive. It is assumed that if there is no open meeting of the Security Council on the Waldheim report, closed door discussions would take place.

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