WASHINGTON (Jan. 10)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said the purpose of his visit to the Middle East is to seek to “transform general ideas” of Egypt and Israel “into a concrete proposal” that those two countries can negotiate In Geneva. “After the concrete proposal exists,” Kissinger told a news conference, “it will lead to serious negotiations on the issue of separation of forces.” He made it plain that he does not expect an agreement on this trip, but negotiations.
Kissinger made the statements after announcing that President Nixon has invited the eight high-consuming oil countries to a conference in Washington Feb. 11 to discuss the energy situation and to have a joint meeting of consumer and producer companies within 90 days after that.
Kissinger said he will meet with President Sadat tomorrow to discuss both the Egyptian President’s and the U.S. Administration’s ideas that would relate to any specific proposal that may be put forth by the Israeli government. He will then visit Israel, and if the Israeli government decides after the first visit to make a proposal be will take it to Egypt. Kissinger, in response to questions, specifically ruled out that he was the central figure in the actual negotiation.
He pointed out that this trip was made at the request of the parties and was not a U.S. initiative. He said that “confidence and progress” are needed in the “crucial initial stage.” But once this is done, he said, he believed negotiate will take place In Geneva. “high level participation” he said, apparently referring to the superpowers, will take place “only when deadlock exists.”
When a reporter noted that the Egyptians are concerned that the initial withdrawal by the Israelis will cause a freeze of a new cease-fire line, Kissinger replied: “Disengagement will be the first phase in the process to a final settlement and negotiations to a final settlement would continue. That is the US, position and the position of the parties.” (By Joseph Polakoff)