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U.N. Diplomat Says Soviet Coup Might Delay Mideast Conference

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A U.N. diplomat said Tuesday that events in the Soviet Union might delay the Middle East peace conference planned for October under U.S.-Soviet auspices.

Edouard Brunner, special U.N. envoy to the Middle East, spoke to reporters after meeting with Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar at U.N. headquarters in Geneva.

“With the changes in the Soviet Union, there could be a certain delay,” said Brunner, a former director general of the Swiss Foreign Office in Bern and currently Swiss ambassador to the United States.

Asked if the conference would in fact take place, Brunner replied, “It could be a little later. It must be well prepared.”

The United Nations is expected to participate in the conference as a “silent observer.” But details of its role have yet to be defined, Brunner said. Its presence at all is a concession painfully extracted from Israel by the United States.

The Israelis wanted the world organization to have no part whatever in the conference, because of its alleged anti-Israel bias.

Brunner said no decision has been made on the conference venue. There are a number of candidates to host the gathering, he said.

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