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Mrs. Meir Belittles Riad’s Assertion That Egypt Does Not Want to Destroy Israel

Israeli Premier Golda Meir responded today to assertions by Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad that Egypt did not want to destroy Israel by declaring that President Nasser “wants to give us the same status as the Jews in jail in Egypt.”

Mrs. Meir was questioned by newsmen about Mr. Riad’s interview of this morning on the National Broadcasting Co. “Today” television program. She told a press conference here that she did not accept an exchange of comments with Mr. Riad on television on different days as a substitute for direct face-to-face peace negotiations. She stressed again that only through direct negotiations without pre-conditions could Israeli visualize a real peace.

She asserted that no pressures had been brought on Israel to withdraw from occupied territories prior to an agreement on “secure and lasting peace.” She added, however, that she was aware that there were some quarters who insisted that the Arabs could not be asked to meet with Israel in one room because it was too humiliating to the Arabs. She also said that if Israel is to live with the Arabs, it was necessary for the two peoples to be able first to meet and talk with each other.

Commenting on military aid sought by Israel, Mrs. Meir said that no “concrete promises were made” by President Richard M. Nixon, but that reassurances were given that there would be no change in the present U.S. policy on support to Israel. She said she regarded this as reflecting understanding and indicated that she expected that “sympathetic consideration” would be given to Israel’s arms needs.

In referring to various forms peace negotiations might take, Mrs. Meir said that it made no difference whether a meeting was held in Cairo, Jerusalem, Geneva or Rhodes but that such meetings would have to be “face to face.” They could be organized under United Nations envoy Gunnar V. Jarring or some other UN structure but must be direct, she said.

Mrs. Meir yesterday told a large Jewish audience that Israel would not accept a “peace formula that means nothing.” She cited in this connection suggestions that Israel should renounce its demands for direct, face-to-face negotiations with the Arabs. Mrs. Meir. said that the Soviet role in the Middle East was such that if there were 14 Jewish states instead of 14 Arab states “the Soviet Union would be a friend of the Jews.”

Of the Arabs she said, “they want us dead but we have decided to remain alive, Not even the UN, the General Assembly, or the Security Council can find a way of compromising between life and death.”

Mrs. Meir said that she has been asked by many people, “how long can you hold out?” She said that the war of attrition could last a long time, adding, “friends, as long as you can hold out, so can we.” Mrs. Meir was lauded by Gov. Ronald Reagan who addressed the meeting and by Sen. George Murphy (California Republican), who also spoke. Both voiced strong support of Israel. Mrs. Meir arrived to a welcome from Mayor Samuel Yorty and the Jewish community. She was presented by Mayor Yorty with a key to the city and gave him a medallion from Jerusalem. Mr. Yorty said, “Jerusalem must never be divided again.” A U.S. Army band and color guard accorded honors to the Premier. Noting children in the audience and U.S. and Israeli flags, Mrs. Meir said both flags “represented freedom and democracy.” Addressing herself to the children, she asked them “to remember those who fought for the U.S. and gave their lives so that this great land can remain free.”

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