State Department Denies Conflict Between Rogers and Nixon Approach to Mideast

State Department spokesman Carl Bartch today described as “apparently without foundation” a story in the Washington Post that U.S. officials are worried that recent statements emanating from the San Clemente summer White House may undercut Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ new peace initiative for the Middle East. The Post said the officials were “puzzled and dismayed” by the substance of briefings at San Clemente which emphasized President Nixon’s grave assessment of Soviet military involvement in Egypt and indicated that the United States would take counter-measures. The briefing for selected newsmen was held on June 26. The embargo placed on it was lifted on July 2, the day after President Nixon stated bluntly on a television question-and-answer session that the U.S. is committed to maintain Israel’s deterrent strength to prevent a new war by its Arab neighbors. At one point in the briefing, the word “expel” was used in connection with Soviet forces in Egypt, creating an impression that the U.S. might be considering the dispatch of American forces to the Mideast. White House spokesmen promptly backtracked and said that option was not even being remotely considered. Nevertheless, according to the Post, some State Department aides felt that with the Rogers’ proposals now in a delicate balance between possible acceptance and outright rejection, the White House should have avoided making statements or publicizing briefing material that could evoke a final negative from either side.

NEXT STORY