TEL AVIV (Jun. 3)
Premier Golda Meir returned home from her Scandinavian visit last night, repeated denials that she met secretly with Soviet officials in Finnish Lapland last week-end, and expressed serious concern that the new 15-year Soviet-Egyptian treaty of friendship and cooperation would once more endanger the arms balance in the Middle East. Mrs. Meir said that as a result of the treaty, the Soviet Union virtually acquired “permanent settlers” status in the Middle East. The Israeli Premier verified “inaccurate” a report in a Swedish newspaper that her unexpected flight from Stockholm to a remote hunting lodge in northern Finland last Saturday was to meet Soviet officials, Earlier, the Premier’s office in Jerusalem denied the report and said Mrs. Meir’s sojourn was for a “rest.” Mrs. Meir said in Oslo before flying home yesterday that she would welcome a renewal of diplomatic ties with the USSR which were broken by Moscow during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. She stated that the 15-year Soviet-Egyptian pact committed the Soviet Union to unqualified support of Egypt against Israel and observed that Soviet arms supplies and training of Egyptian forces could create an imbalance of power and lead to a dangerous situation.
Mrs. Meir expressed suspicion that there are secret clauses in the treaty and noted that the pact contained options for a five-year extension when the 15-year term expires. She said the treaty involved Moscow in practically everything that goes on in Egypt, adding, “that is an Egyptian problem.” In her initial comment on the treaty in Stockholm last week, Mrs. Meir took the position that it contained nothing new and merely formalized and existing relationship between Egypt and the USSR. Political analysts in Israel however took a graver view of the pact and Mrs. Meir’s remarks at the airport last night indicated that she might now share that view. Asked about the Socialist International Conference in Helsinki which she addressed Mrs. Meir said she was confident that the world’s Socialist leaders were, on the whole, backing Israel. She added, however, “We must wait and see what they do.”