WASHINGTON (Dec. 2)
Premier Golda Meir of Israel and Secretary of State William P. Rogers agreed today that no diplomatic action on the Middle East can be “resumed or undertaken” until the Mideast debate in the United Nations General Assembly runs its course, a State Department source said in a briefing for newsmen this afternoon following a three hour Meir-Rogers meeting at the State Department. Afterwards Mrs. Meir conferred with President Nixon at the White House for some two hours and their discussion was still going on by late afternoon.
Mrs. Meir emerged smiling from her session with Rogers but declined to describe the topics discussed. Asked if differences were narrowed or resolved at the meeting, a State Department source close to the proceedings replied, “It is difficult to answer that with either of these words but the atmosphere was good.”
JETS SHOULD NOT BE CONFRONTATION ISSUE
The source said that Rogers referred to “the policy and attitude of President Nixon and the administration’s constancy in support of the State of Israel and determination not to see the military balance brought to the disadvantage of Israel.” Questioned about the delivery of Phantom jets which Israel has been urging, the source said “Both governments agreed that we should not, as governments, be put in a position of confronting one another on this matter of aircraft.”
The source repeated that “The US is committed to the support of Israel and the military balance is not to be to the disadvantage of Israel.” Asked if this comment was related to the resolution adopted by 78 Senators and 250 members of the House of Representatives urging the administration to resume the delivery of Phantoms to Israel immediately, the source said, “Any statement, action or editorial from any quarter that poses the issue of relations between the US and Israel in the narrow context of these aircraft does an injustice to the actual state of our relations.” He indicated that both the US and Israel agree that their relations are “crudely and incompletely” pictured when put in terms of the Phantom issue.
All that Mrs. Meir would say about the Phantoms after her meeting with Rogers was that she was “a person who is always optimistic and never discouraged.” She described her meeting with the Secretary of State as “very pleasant, very friendly.” Observers here believed that Rogers gave Mrs. Meir assurances of US support for Israel’s security. They based that belief on Rogers’s remarks at a press conference last night that “We are involved with the security of Israel and the President has said repeatedly that we are going to maintain that security.”
When asked today if any problems were solved at her session with Rogers. Mrs. Meir was non-commital. She said problems exist and some haven’t been solved in 25 years. She said Israel was “always prepared to negotiate under proper conditions, preferably directly, but also indirectly without pre-conditions from either side.”
Asked if she feared the Big Powers might try to impose a Middle East settlement, Mrs. Meir said, “I don’t believe the biggest power has the right or the ability to impose anything on independent states no matter how small.” Asked what were Israel’s primary concerns, the Israeli Premier said, “There is only one, that we don’t have peace with our neighbors.”
OBJECTIVE: KEEP DIPLOMATIC PROCESS ALIVE
Mrs. Meir was accompanied to the State Department by Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin, Avner Idan, deputy chief of the Israeli Embassy here, her political adviser Simha Dinitz and her military adviser, Brig, Gen. Israel Lior, Moshe Ravin, Counselor of the Israel Embassy also attended. Rogers was accompanied by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joseph J. Sisco and Deputy Assistant Secretary Alfred Atherton. Other State Department officials present were Robert J. McCloskey, Rogers’ special assistant and chief State Department spokesman; Heywood Stackhouse, the Israel Desk officer; and Marion Smoak, Deputy Chief of Protocol.
Referring to American initiatives in the Middle East, Rogers told reporters last night. “Our objective is to keep the diplomatic process alive because if it came to an end it would create a dangerous situation.” He added. “Our role is a useful one but we realize that it may fail.” He said the US had no preference as to how future peace talks should be conducted but indicated that “face-to-face talks” between Israelis and Arabs “are not possible at this time.” He said the US would seek a solution after conclusion of the Middle East debate that opens tomorrow in the General Assembly.