WASHINGTON (Oct. 5)
State Department officials offered guarded confirmation today of reports that the US was discussing security safeguards with Israel should an interim agreement with Egypt to reopen the Suez Canal break down. But an Israeli Embassy official denied that any such assurances were under discussion. The State Department officials emphasized that the discussions were “preliminary” and “exploratory.” They explicitly ruled out any implication that the US would join Israel in concerted military action in the event an interim agreement broke down.
The Israeli spokesman said the Embassy was not aware of any additional assurances being given Israel by the US. The whole issue of assurances was not even mentioned in the discussions in New York yesterday between Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Secretary of State William P. Rogers, the spokesman said. The State Department officials refused to confirm but did not flatly deny a New York Times report today that the security assurances being discussed would make the US the “main guarantor” of a Suez agreement. Neither did they deny outright that a written commitment between Washington and Jerusalem, such as an exchange of letters, was contemplated.
In a related development, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joseph J. Sisco said flatly on a CBS interview today that American troops would not be sent to the Middle East. He made the statement after reporters asked him if the US would be “ready to provide troops to protect Israel against any violation in the Middle East.” Sisco replied, “This is not involved,” adding that Rogers had indicated as much in his address yesterday to the General Assembly. Sisco said that “obviously” further discussion is required on “the nature of supervisory arrangements which help to assure that any interim agreement would in fact be kept.” Pressed on whether an American military presence was contemplated, Sisco said, “We are looking to other means.” He did not amplify that statement.