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U.S. Urging Israel, Egypt to Accept Two-step Arrangement: Allow Third Army to Receive Supplies, Dire

Premier Golda Meir met with President Nixon for 80 minutes in the White House today but there were no indications afterwards whether or not they had reached agreement on crucial matters relating to the present Middle East cease-fire and negotiations to follow. President Nixon characterized their talks as “very constructive as were the talks yesterday,” a reference to his meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmi. The United States indicated today that it is urging Israel and Egypt to agree on a two-step arrangement that will allow Egypt’s trapped Third Army to receive supplies and then direct negotiations between them to follow. The possibility of a meeting in Washington between Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Zachariah Ismail who is in New York for the United Nations sessions, also was forecast by an authoritative American source.

Meanwhile, it was reported here today that Iraq and Syria have refused Kissinger’s request to visit their countries as part of his tour to several Arab capitals early this month. Baghdad reportedly let it be known that it did not wish to hold talks with any American official since Iraq has rejected the Middle East cease-fire and what it has termed excessive U.S. bias against the Arab nation. Damascus also reportedly declined to receive Kissinger because of what it termed the American anti-Arab policy. These attitudes were reported by the Lebanese newspaper Al-L Iwa. There was no immediate reaction by any official Syrian or Iraqi government spokesman to this report.

Referring to a possible arrangement, Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey said that in the judgment of the U.S. the only way the situation can be resolved along the Suez Canal is to establish a “corridor” as “a possible compromise” between Israeli demands for their POWs and Egyptian demands for Israel’s withdrawal to the Oct. 22 cease-fire lines which, in effect, means Israeli release of its grip on the surrounded Egyptian Third Army. “Our role could be both procedural and substantive,” McCloskey said with regard to the U.S. approach toward Egypt and Israel. “If the parties get to a negotiation,” he said “it will require a more active role by the United States.” The U.S. and the Soviet Union, he said, are “coming together on financing the United Nations Emergency Force and possible U.S.-Soviet participation in the non-armed United Nations Truce Supervision Organization. It was reliably said here that the U.S. and the Soviet Union will have 32 members each in UNTSO.

President Nixon and Mrs. Meir both seemed very relaxed as they posed for photographers after their meeting. Nixon had his arm around Mrs. Meir as he led her to her limousine and they appeared to be chatting amiably. Kissinger, who participated in the meeting, also seemed much more relaxed than he had been before the session. The Israeli Premier was accompanied at her meeting with Nixon by the Israeli Ambassador, Simcha Dinitz, and Gen. Aharon Yariv, former Israeli intelligence chief who is Mrs. Meir’s advisor. The Israeli leader, arriving here last night, stressed the “real and basic” friendship between the U.S. and Israel but conceded that “there are problems” and “things have to be clarified.” Visibly tired after an 11-hour flight from Tel Aviv, the 75-year-old Premier expressed confidence that relations between her government and the U.S. would be clarified at her meeting with the President.

Mrs. Meir said she was “very happy and appreciative” of the way the U.S. demonstrated its friendship for Israel. The U.S. government, she said, “wishes us well and has demonstrated it more than once.” She praised Nixon’s role during the recent Middle East war and his efforts to secure a durable peace in the region. Mrs. Meir added, however, that “naturally, from time to time problems and questions arise for which we seek answers and clarification.” It would be almost unnatural “if the United States saw things exactly as Israel sees it,” she added. The Israeli Premier also observed that “No one can say that the United States is any enemy of the Arabs. It is the only big power that is interested in peace in the area.”

Premier Meir’s arrival in Washington yesterday capped a day of intensive diplomatic activity related to the Middle East. Nixon met for 45 minutes with Fahmi who was yesterday appointed Egypt’s Foreign Minister, replacing Mohammed el-Zayyat who was named advisor to President Anwar Sadat, and shook his hand warmly outside the Presidential office as the Egyptian stepped into his limousine. Fahmi and Kissinger hugged each other and smiled broadly as they stood in the White House driveway after the talks. This was in sharp contrast to Kissinger’s mood this morning after conferring with Mrs. Meir. The Secretary of State appeared extraordinarily glum and even grim. (Late this afternoon Mrs. Meir held a press conference. See P. 2 for story.)

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