ROME (May. 25)
A NATO official said here today that the Middle East conflict would be high on the agenda of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Council meeting here tomorrow which will be attended by U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers. Mr. Rogers arrived here today and met with Italian Foreign Minister Aldo Moro who returned yesterday from a visit to Cairo. British Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart also conferred with Mr. Moro. The Italian Foreign Minister said Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad had asked for Italian aid in bringing up the whole Middle East situation at the NATO Council meeting Tuesday and Wednesday. Manlio Broslo, secretary general of the NATO Council said the Mediterranean situation was heavily influenced by events in the Middle East even though the latter is not the territorial responsibility of NATO. He said the conflict was deteriorating without signs of negotiations or compromise and because the Big Powers are involved, a new flare-up in the Middle East could endanger world peace. Mr. Stewart, on his arrival, reaffirmed Britain’s position that breaches of the cease-fire in the Mideast must stop.
(The New York Times correspondent, Drew Middleton, reporting yesterday from Brussels, the NATO headquarters, stated that NATO military sources are becoming increasingly concerned that the Middle East balance of power may have shifted to Israel’s detriment as a result of Soviet activities in Egypt and are seriously questioning Israel’s ability to defend its own borders in face of concerted Arab attacks on several fronts. Mr. Middleton said the military sources believe Arab strategy, developed under Soviet tutelage and training, is to intensify guerrilla assaults from southern Lebanon and along the Jordanian frontier while a Soviet-manned air defense system in Egypt deters the Israel Air Force from interfering with Egypt’s military build-up for a new offensive across the Suez Canal. According to these sources the Arabs are planning amphibious landings on Israel’s coast in coordination with overland attacks. Mr. Middleton wrote, “The ultimate question asked by authoritative NATO sources is whether Israel can prevent the Arabs from widening the war without sizable material reenforcement from the United States, including Phantom bombers.”)