WASHINGTON (Sep. 10)
A new round of diplomatic activity on the Middle East crisis will begin next week both in Washington and at the United Nations where the General Assembly convenes for its fall session. The principals will be the United States and the Soviet Union which will resume their bilateral efforts to reach some sort of common ground on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Secretary of State William P. Rogers will have his first meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko at the UN. According to State Department officials, the Middle East situation and disarmament will be the top items on their agenda.
The British and French foreign ministers are expected to press for a resumption of the Four Power Mideast talks which brought together the chief UN representatives of the United States, Britain, France and Russia. Those talks were recessed last spring after months of apparently fruitless meetings. Similarly, the parallel talks between Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco and the Soviet Ambassador to Washington, Anatoly F. Dobrynin, will resume when Mr. Dobrynin returns to the U.S. after a summer-long absence. The Soviet envoy postponed his return so that he could travel with Foreign Minister Gromyko and other members of the Soviet UN delegation expected to arrive in New York next Sunday.
Secretary of State Rogers is scheduled to meet at the UN with Foreign Minister Abba Eban of Israel and with Egypt’s UN representative, Mahmoud Riad, the State Department said. It is believed his talk with Mr. Eban will concern the forthcoming visit to Washington of Israeli Premier Golda Meir. They are expected to review agenda items in light of the latest Mideast developments. Mr. Rogers will return to Washington to greet Mrs. Meir Sept. 25.
Diplomatic sources here said the Nixon Administration pins its main hope for an end to the Mideast impasse on the talks between Mr. Sisco and Mr. Dobrynin. The Assistant Secretary of State is the Government’s key negotiator on the Mideast. The last time he conferred with Soviet officials was in Moscow last summer.
The State Department disclosed that Mr. Sisco summoned the Israeli Charge d’Affaires, Shlomo Argov, to his office yesterday to express official displeasure over Israel’s punitive raid on Egyptian coastal installations on the Gulf of Suez. The State Department also deplored today’s new Israeli air strike in the same area. But the department seemed to be making only a pro forma protest.
The Israeli raid, and the increasing incidence of Arab terrorist activities and sabotage against Israel which in recent days has spread far beyond the Middle East, have alarmed officials here and given new urgency to attempts to reach a diplomatic solution. Officials concede that the outlook is less than promising. The Soviet Union has given no evidence of softening its all-out pro-Arab attitude. American diplomats will look for some signs of a change when Mr. Gromyko arrives.