JERUSALEM (Jun. 16)
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol reported here today that in his talks with President Johnson, the latter expressed friendship and esteem for Israel and stressed it was in the United States interest to maintain Israel’s integrity and peace in the Middle East.
The Prime Minister returned to Israel yesterday after a brief rest in Switzerland following his whirlwind 12-day tour of the United States as the first Israel Premier to visit America on an official invitation by a United States President. The Prime Minister’s plane arrived at Lydda Airport escorted by four Mirage interceptor jets which later staged a flypast in salute to the Prettier.
In his statement at the airport, the Prime Minister said his visit contributed greatly to the deepening of friendship and mutual understanding between Israel and the United States. He called his talks with President Johnson “open and keen” and said they included an exchange of views on many world and regional problems.
Discussing the announced United States-Israel joint plans for research into the possibilities of application of nuclear energy to desalting sea water–announced at the close of the Premier’s tour–he said that after research had been completed, a large plant would be built to produce “significant quantities” of desalinated water for farm and industrial purposes. He spoke with great satisfaction of his meetings with Hebrew-speaking Jewish boys and girls in various cities in the United States.
A military guard of honor, representing all defense units, was inspected by the Premier before he proceeded to Jerusalem. He was welcomed at the airport by Knesset Speaker Kaddish Luz, Members of the Cabinet and diplomatic corps, the latter headed by Russian Ambassador Mikhail Bodrov, and American Ambassador Walworth Barbour, who had just returned to Israel from Washington where he was on duty during the Eshkol visit to the United States. Chief of Staff Ytzhak Rabin came by helicopter from army exercises in southern Israel.
Israel Foreign Office sources meanwhile denied today press reports of alleged differences between the Prime Minister and Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, in evaluations of the significance of the recent visit to Egypt by Soviet Premier Khrushchev. Mr. Eshkol said, during his United States tour, that the Soviet Premier’s Cairo speeches did not include explicit expressions of hostility toward Israel. Mrs. Meir said that the speeches tended to encourage Arab aggression.
The Foreign Office sources said that the apparent discrepancy was largely a question of emphasis. They said there was agreement that the Soviet leader’s speeches were restrained but that Mrs. Meir stressed the dangers of the speeches being interpreted by the Arabs as supporting their aggressive intentions toward Israel. The difference in the assessments was given additional attention when Former Premier David Ben-Gurion, in an address at a Mapai meeting, said he tended to agree with Mrs. Meir’s evaluation.