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Waldheim May Take Mideast Initiative

January 31, 1973
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Kurt Wald-heim, UN Secretary General, “will take a personal hand in the search for a Middle East settlement just as soon as he judges the time is ripe,” according to informed sources at the UN. These sources say that Waldheim will know better when that point has been reached after he sees how the proposed proximity talks between Israel and Egypt turn out Israel already has said it is ready to participate in these talks but Egypt is holding back.

At his Jan. 8 news conference Waldheim expressed a willingness “to do something in this field (Middle East) and you can be sure that I shall not hesitate to take the necessary initiative as soon as I consider it useful and helpful.” Expressing caution, Waldheim said at the same news conference: “Such actions have to be prepared very carefully and thoroughly before concrete suggestions or proposals are put forward.”

Waldheim also is not denigrating the idea of a peace conference to find a solution to the Middle East conflict. “All this has to be clarified within the next few weeks and I hope to be able to make up my mind,” he said at the news conference.

END OF JARRING ERA?

His intention to take a personal role in a possible settlement of the Middle East dispute and his talk about a peace conference suggest the possibility that Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring will finish his mission in the Middle East. Dr. Jarring himself, according to persistent rumors in the UN, would like to step down, feeling he has done as much as he can and obtained little.

In addition, it has been learned that Dr. Jarring and Waldhem do not have the same high confidence in each other that Dr. Jarring and former Secretary General U Thant enjoyed. An other fact that indicates an end to the “Jarring era” is that there was no reference to Dr. Jarring at Waldheim’s last news conference, where he proposed his willingness to search for a Mideast settlement. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli mission to the UN, but it is known that the Israelis are not happy about the present situation and would welcome a new initiative.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the UN denied a Cairo report that Waldheim will visit some Middle East capitals in May on his way to Addis Ababa for the Organization of African Unity summit meeting. Next month Waldheim is to visit capitals in the Far East. In an answer to a reporter’s question, the UN spokesman said that Waldheim would not stop in any Middle East country while enroute to Addis Ababa.

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