WASHINGTON (Jul. 19)
The State Department today parried a barrage of questions from newsmen and steadfastly refused to interpret the meaning of the reduction of the Soviet military presence in Egypt, apparently at President Anwar Sadat’s behest.
“I must stress the inappropriateness of comment by any third party and specifically by the United States on a matter that does not directly involve us and in which the interests of other, countries are involved,” spokesman Charles Bray declared to the reporters at his briefing today. His statement came after he was asked whether the State Depart- ment knows the circumstances of the withdrawal of an undisclosed number of Soviet personnel and does not wish to tell or whether it does not know and cannot tell.
Reiterating a remark by Secretary of State William P. Rogers yesterday, Bray said that “this is an internal affair and not one in which we intend to comment in any way.” Observers noted that Rogers, on a speaking engagement in San Francisco, was in a joyful mood over the Sadat announcement. Similarly, State Department personnel concerned with the area appeared relaxed if silent.
In response to questions, Bray said he was not aware of any Egyptian-American discussion in Washington on this subject and that the Department has no plans for Joseph N. Greene, Jr., the American representative in Cairo, to return to Washington. He also said that he had no knowledge of whether Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin had been in communication with American officials. At the Israeli Embassy, spokesman Gad Ranon said “no comment” to all questions bearing on the latest development in the Cairo-Moscow relations.