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Eshkol Says His Visit to U.S. Strengthened Israel’s Security Position

Premier Eshkol, in a statement to the press, asserted today that he was “sure” his visit to the United States and his meetings with President Johnson “will prove decisive regarding Israel’s political security position in the coming years.”

He said that while he believes the United States would come to Israel’s aid if she were attacked, this in no way “minimized” the need for Israel to maintain a strong deterrent force,” He added that “even the Americans did not tell us we should not rely on our own strength.”

Premier Eshkol was also reported today as telling the Cabinet that Washington had indicated that United States forces could reach the area in hours if Israel were attacked and that the United States accepted the principle of preserving the Israel-Arab balance of strength.

The Premier reported to the Cabinet today that on his visit to Paris starting next Sunday he will meet French President De Gaulle, Premier Georges Pompidou, Foreign Minister Couve De Murville and Defense Minister Pierre Messmer. His detailed itinerary will be published this week in Paris and Jerusalem simultaneously.

Mr. Eshkol also told the Cabinet that Abba Eban will be Acting Premier and Pinhas Sapir, Acting Defense Minister in his absence. Before leaving, Mr. Eshkol plans to appoint the three Israelis who will represent Israel on the Joint U.S. Israel desalination project team.

Also reporting to the Cabinet today was the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Mr. David Horowitz, who called the United Nations Trade Development Conference at Geneva, from which he has just returned, a “historic conference.”

He stressed that Israel’s proposal for channeling inter-governmental aid for subsidizing interest rates for loans to developing countries was adopted without opposition and even supported by the Arabs. He also said Israel was promised membership on one of the conference board’s three committees and will be supported for membership on the board in its next elections.

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