WASHINGTON (Sep. 27)
President Richard M. Nixon landed in Rome today on the first leg of a European trip that analysts here agreed has important implications for United States policy in the Middle East. The President will visit the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean on Sept. 28-29 and will be in Belgrade, Yugoslavia Sept. 30-Oct. 2 for talks with Marshal Tito. The Yugoslavian leader is a close friend and confidant of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. The Middle East situation is expected to figure on the agenda of their talks. The President may get from Marshal Tito an assessment of the Arab-Israeli conflict as it is viewed from the Arab camp, particularly President Nasser’s aims at this juncture. The President’s visit to the Sixth Fleet is seen as a move to focus attention on that vast amphibious force at a time when a powerful, modern Soviet fleet is cruising the Mediterranean for the first time in history. One analyst here said the President’s call on his naval armada also reflects the erosion of U.S. influence in the Mideast. Twenty years ago it was sufficient for the Sixth Fleet to sail around the Mediterranean to give weight to U.S. diplomacy but now the President has to be sailed around to give weight to the Sixth Fleet, the analyst said.