JERUSALEM (Apr. 16)
Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco extended his stay in Israel by one night for further talks with Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Deputy Premier Yigal Allon. As of 9:30 p.m. local time he was meeting Premier Golda Meir in her Tel Aviv office for what was described as a “summing up” talk. Mr. Sisco was originally scheduled to go to Amman late this afternoon. (The U.S. State Department announced in Washington today that Mr. Sisco decided to “defer” his visit to Amman “in view of recent developments” there. Department spokesman Robert McCloskey said he would go directly to Beirut, Lebanon before attending a U.S. chiefs of mission meeting in Teheran next week. The State Department said that Mr. Sisco’s decision to bypass Jordan was made in conjunction with U.S. Ambassador Harrison Symmes in Amman.)
(Palestinian mobs led by armed commandos set fire to the U.S. Information Service library in Amman yesterday and invaded the U.S. Embassy compound, in violent demonstrations against the Sisco visit. Reports from Amman today said mob frenzy reached such a peak that the “Palestine Armed Struggle Command,” the umbrella agency for some eight Arab guerrilla groups, issued orders banning further anti-American demonstrations. According to the reports, guerrilla leaders blocked a march in Amman today in defiance of the orders. In the expectation that Mr. Sisco would arrive there this afternoon, the Palestinians had called for a stoppage of all traffic and a general strike to make Amman “a dead city” when the American diplomat arrived.) Mr. Sisco was taken on a tour of Jordan Valley settlements today and viewed the damage to homes caused by recent shellings from Jordan. He was accompanied by Chief of Staff Gen. Haim Bar Lev and Gen. “Motta” Gur, commanding officer of the Northern Command. Mr. Sisco entered the home of a family at Yardena where a ceiling was destroyed by mortar and bazooka shells two nights ago. He also visited Gesher which was shelled only 12 hours before. Mr. Sisco said nothing and refused to reply to questions by newsmen accompanying the party. But he reportedly listened intently to Army officers and civilians who described the situation in the border settlements. Mr. Sisco dined tonight at the home of U.S. Ambassador Walworth Barbour who also invited Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Deputy Premier Yigal Allon. He had a two and a half hour “working session” with Mr. Eban yesterday and met with the Israeli Foreign Minister for a second hour-long meeting in the evening before attending a state dinner in his honor at the Eban home. According to informed sources. Middle East problems were the main topic of conversation at the dinner.
FEELINGS EXPRESSED THAT ISRAELI NEWSPAPERS EXAGGERATE IMPORTANCE OF SISCO’S VISIT
Political circles here said today that Israeli newspapers were exaggerating the importance of Mr. Sisco’s visit to Israel. The American diplomat met yesterday afternoon with Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and high ranking military officers at the King David Hotel. Informed sources said the discussions centered on Israel’s need for more U.S. warplanes to balance the Russian-built SAM-3 anti-aircraft missiles being installed in Egypt. Among the military men who spoke to Mr. Sisco were Gen. Bar Lev, Gen. Aharon Yaric, chief of intelligence; Deputy Defense Minister Tzvi Tzur and Gen. Shlomo Gazit, officer in charge of the occupied territories. The newspaper Maariv said today that Mr. Sisco declined a request for a meeting with a number of Arab notables from the occupied territories. According to Maariv the Arabs are associated with a movement to establish a “Palestinian entity” on the West Bank and if Mr. Sisco met with them it could be considered an affront to King Hussein, of Jordan. Such a meeting might imply that the U.S. had reservations over the stability of the Hussein regime, Maariv said. Mr. Sisco reportedly declined on the grounds that his timetable is already overcrowded.
(In Washington, Secretary of State William P. Rogers said today that he was not very optimistic about a breakthrough in the Middle East conflict as a result of Mr. Sisco’s visit there. In an interview for German radio and TV aired Thursday at 9 p.m. German time, Rogers suggested that Sisco’s visit would do nothing to ease tensions in the Middle East. “There doesn’t seem to be much give on either side at the moment,” Rogers said. “If the parties would agree to negotiate–if they would get together and talk about the future, we think there is a chance that something could be worked out. But I must say that at the moment we are not very optimistic.” He said that the Soviet Union may be working at cross purposes with those countries that want peace. “There is a very strong likelihood that the Soviet Union would prefer what is referred to as ‘controlled tension’ in the area rather than permanent peace.”