JERUSALEM (May. 24)
An authoritative Israeli source described the forthcoming visit of Soviet President Nikolai V. Podgorny to Egypt today as an obvious attempt to see for himself whether and how Soviet interests were being affected by the recent political upheaval in Cairo. The source told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that in Israel’s view, President Anwar Sadat “is not in a mood to dissociate himself from the Soviet Union” because his dependence on Moscow for arms it too great. However, the source added, “the Soviet government is probably disturbed by the recent American initiatives in the Middle East. It must be considered after all, that the cease-fire-the Jarring mission and now the project to reopen the Suez Canal are all products of American initiative.” The source said that the American moves, now accompanied by Sadat’s ouster of Vice President Aly Sabri and many other pro-Soviet officials, have aroused the Kremlin leaderships’ concern over exactly what the Soviet position in Cairo is. The source said that Israel has not yet been notified by the United States of Egypt’s reaction to the latest Israeli note conveyed to Cairo by Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco earlier this month.
The source said, “We hope that President Sadat speaks on two levels, a rhetorical level which found expression in his speech before the National Assembly and a concrete level on which he may be willing to negotiate. If that is so there may still be hope.” The source confirmed to the JTA that there has been no response from the U.S. to date to Israel’s requests for additional arms supplies when the current contracts expire. “There has been no negative reply” the source said. “Rather, we are in a Nirvana. We have been given no picture as to what the arms supply situation will be when the contracts run out.” The sources stressed, however, that there was no question of American pressure, although “I cannot say we are not worried.” The source disclosed that Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s forthcoming visit to eight African countries was directly linked to the conference of the Organization of African Unity to be held at the end of June. The eight Arab member states of the OAU are expected to try to get the all-African conference to adopt anti-Israel resolutions. “These policies usually shaped in the course of the month preceding the conference,” the source said, indicating that Eban’s visit was calculated to counter the Arab moves.