LONDON (Jan. 5)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad conferred with Prime Minister Edward Heath, Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home and other British diplomats here today. His visit was regarded by observers here as part of the Egyptian diplomatic offensive in various capitals on the eve of the resumption of the Jarring peace talks. They said the British government was also using the occasion to improve relations with Cairo. Foreign Office circles said the Middle East was the main topic of discussion although Riad is also believed to have pressed Egypt’s request for a $38.4 million export credit to help finance a new oil pipeline from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, parallel to the Suez Canal. Riad’s arrival was delayed by had weather and his meetings with British officials were telescoped into a single day. He will be visited at his hotel tomorrow morning by Joseph Godber, Minister of State at the Foreign Office.
Riad met with Prime Minister Heath at No. 10 Downing St. and was the guest of Sir Alec at a luncheon in his honor. He came here at the invitation of the British government which was announced last month. Some observers said the invitation was in line with the views expressed by Sir Alec in his Oct. 31 speech in Harrogate in which he outlined his government’s stand on the Middle East. In that speech, he called for Israel’s withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories with only “minor” border alterations, a proposal almost identical to that advanced by U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers in Dec., 1969. Douglas-Home’s speech aroused anger in Israel and in pro-Israel circles here. The British government sought to assure the Israelis that there was no change in British policy on the Middle East, But charges persisted today that the British government is bent on “appeasing” Cairo.