WASHINGTON (Jun. 29)
State Department officials said today that no disciplinary action would be taken against Donald C. Bergus, the senior American diplomat in Cairo, whose recent personal views on the Middle East have caused ill will in the region. The Department denied yesterday that there was any official standing to Bergus’ memorandum to Egyptian leaders proposing an Israeli withdrawal from half of the Sinai Peninsula, an Egyptian crossing of the Suez Canal and a United Nations buffer force, Although the “phantom memo, ” as it is being called, has injected an unwelcome element into the negotiations for an interim settlement, no private outrage has been voiced in the higher echelons of the State Department, according to Department officials. They reiterated that while the announced U.S. policy is to tell both Mideast sides the same thing, this is restricted to official government communications, thus excluding Bergus’ memo.
Informed sources said the case will impel the United States to put its official position on paper, a move expected within a week or two. They said that such a formality would probably be taken up with the Israelis first. Coincidentally, Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin was due to meet with Secretary of State William P. Rogers late this afternoon at Rogers’ request. Meanwhile, Bergus is conferring with State Department officials prior to returning to Cairo. (In Savannah, Dr. William A. Wexler said yesterday that Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco had advised him that Bergus had “acted on his own” without State Department authorization. The president of B’nai B’rith and chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said that according to Sisco, the State Department had informed Cairo “immediately that Bergus’ memo did not reflect U.S. policy.)