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Israel Welcomes Visit of Sisco to Country and His Visit to Arab States

Foreign Ministry officials said today that the forthcoming visit to Israel of Joseph Sisco, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and his visit to Cairo and other Arab capitals, is welcomed by Israel. No American diplomat of Mr. Sisco’s rank has visited Egypt since Cairo severed diplomatic relations with the U.S. during the June, 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Officials here said Mr. Sisco’s visit would enable him to see and compare the stands of Israel and Egypt on Middle East peace and make it clear to him that Israel wants peace while the Arabs do not. Foreign Minister Abba Eban informed the Cabinet today of Mr. Sisco’s impending visit. Foreign Ministry officials said they have not yet been informed of the exact date of Mr. Sisco’s arrival, accompanied by his assistant, Alfred Atherton. Consequently no schedule has been prepared. They said Israel was informed by the U.S. that Mr. Sisco’s visit was an “orientation tour” of the Middle East in connection with meetings to take place later at Teheran, Iran. He will stop over at London and Paris on his way to the Mideast.

The U.S. State Department disclosed in Washington last week that Mr. Sisco was going to Teheran for routine consultations with the chief of the U.S. Mission in the Mideast. Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey said at the time that while there were no definite plans to visit other countries in the region a stop-over in Egypt was emphatically ruled out. (Diplomatic sources in Cairo said over the week-end that Mr. Sisco was due there next Friday for talks with Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad and possibly with President Gamal Abdel Nasser. He is also scheduled to visit Amman and Beirut. According to Washington sources, a Sisco meeting with Egyptian leaders would represent a new departure for the Nixon Administration since the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Cairo.)

Mr. Sisco, a career diplomat, visited Israel in the summer of 1968 when he accompanied George Ball, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. In the last few weeks Mr. Sisco has had several meetings with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly E. Dobrynin in what some Washington observers have termed the renewal of bilateral talks but which others have viewed as preparatory talks for the resumption of bilateral negotiations.

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