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U.S. to Deal with Mideast Military Balance Before Resuming Talks with USSR

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The Nixon administration has decided to redress what it believes to be the necessary balance of military power in the Middle East before resuming talks with the Soviet Union on means to end the Mideast conflict. That was the general impression gained by observers here from Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ remarks on the CBS television program “Meet the Press” yesterday. Mr. Rogers said a U.S. decision on Israel’s request for more combat jets would be forthcoming “before a few weeks,” while new American diplomatic initiatives would be started “in the next two or three weeks.” Mr. Rogers met last Tuesday with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin and the two agreed to further meetings. The Soviet envoy, however, did not provide Mr. Rogers with what the U.S. regards as a satisfactory explanation of Soviet intentions in the Mideast, specifically the presence of Russian pilots flying what seem to be operational missions over Egypt. When Mr. Rogers and Mr. Dobrynin meet again, observers believe, the U.S. will already have announced a decision to sell more jets to Israel though far less than requested. Mr. Rogers said on “Meet the Press” that the U.S. intended to act on the plane request in a “balanced and measured way” in order to “keep the door open for negotiations.” He said: “We think that it’s just possible–just possible–that you could get negotiations started, and it’s just possible that this could result in a settlement somewhere along the line.”

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