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Eban Plans Washington Visit, Will Confer with Rogers and Possibly Nixon

Foreign Minister Abba Eban will fly to Washington sometime after March 9 for an expected meeting with Secretary of State William P. Rogers and possibly with President Richard M. Nixon, it was disclosed today. Mr. Eban’s visit, though officially described as involving speeches to American Jewish organizations, was viewed here as having an urgent diplomatic nature. He intends to place Israel’s position in the Middle East conflict clearly before the top officials of the U.S.

Government at a time when the Nixon administration is about to crystallize its views on various world problems, among them the Middle East. (U.S. officials said in Paris before President Nixon’s flight to Rome today that there would be more bi-lateral talks on the Mideast with Britain, France and the Soviet Union to set up ground rules for a Four Power conference on tensions in the region. Secretary of State Rogers was expected to meet “very soon” with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin in Washington on the subject. Reports from Paris said that President Nixon had agreed with President Charles de Gaulle of France on Four Power talks to be held within a United Nations framework.)

Israel Government sources noted in connection with Foreign Minister Eban’s Washington visit that the late Premier Levi Eshkol had been scheduled to go to the U.S. sometime this spring for a meeting with President Nixon and other U.S. officials. Mr. Eshkol’s visit was originally to have taken place last fall as a farewell call on President Johnson and a meeting with the then President-elect Nixon. That visit was called off reportedly for reasons of health.

Reliable sources here stressed that in talks Mr. Eban held with members of the official U.S. delegation to Mr. Eshkol’s funeral there were no indications of any proposed change in the American attitude toward the Mideast. However, Israel was said to feel an urgent need to discuss with Washington the implications of an “imposed settlement” of the Mideast problem and to ascertain whether Washington intends a compromise, a diplomatic move the Israelis feel would inevitably be at their expense.

There was speculation here today about whether President Nixon intended to visit Israel in the near future. It arose from remarks attributed to U.S. Secretary of Health. Education and Welfare Robert H. Finch who headed the official U.S. delegation to the funeral. Sources here said that Mr. Finch told Acting Prime Minister Yigal Allon that Mr. Nixon intends to visit Israel early during his tenure in office, but Americans and Israeli officials said they knew of no such plans. The U.S. Cabinet member reportedly said, “I know that while this is my first visit I will be back and I know from my discussions with President Nixon that he will be here very early in his Administration.” Mr. Nixon, officials said in Paris, had expressed a desire to visit the Mideast and Mediterranean areas at some time but had not specified when.

(The authoritative Cairo newspaper Al Ahram reported that Mahmoud Fawzi, President Nasser’s chief foreign affairs advisor, will confer Friday in Paris with Henry Cabot Lodge, the U.S. chief delegate to the Vietnam peace talks. Fawzi was to begin a trout of Europe tomorrow to explain Egypt’s position on the Mideast crisis to Government leaders. He will meet with President de Gaulle of France.)

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