WASHINGTON (Feb. 4)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger has not been invited to take an intermediary role in the current Syrian attacks against Israel and neither he nor Under-secretary-designate Joseph J. Sisco have plans to visit the Middle East soon, the State Department said today. Rumors were current here and in the Middle East that Kissinger or possibly Sisco, would go to Damascus by mid-Feb. to help induce Syria to enter talks for disengagement of forces on the Syrian front.
(According to diplomatic sources in Beirut, Kissinger will fly to Damascus this week at the request of the Syrian government. If he succeeds in arranging Israeli-Syrian disengagement negotiations the way would be open for Syria’s participation in the next phase of the Geneva peace conference the sources said.)
“No trips are planned but I never rule out anything,” Department spokesman George Vest said. He added that Kissinger has a “sufficient clear-cut schedule” for the remainder of Feb and Sisco has no travel plans. The intermediary role. Vest said, concerns the current fighting. “We consistently feel,” he said, that the U.S. wants to continue the momentum of the disengagement of forces which the United States initiated and are being successfully carried out on the Suez front.
Commenting on the statements last week by President Nixon and Kissinger that indicated an early lifting of the Arab oil embargo against the United States, Vest said that the U.S. position is based on “the assurances of several Arab governments.” He said “We continue on the basis of those assurances and we are not aware of pre-conditions to the embargo in the correspondence.”
The question arose after Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khadam had said at Kuwait airport today on his way to Damascus after visiting Saudi Arabia and Kuwait that the governments of those two countries would not lift the embargo until Syria’s conditions for disengagement are met. He said that the Arab summit meeting in Algiers in Nov. had made it clear that the embargo would not be lifted “from any state until that state clearly shows it is supporting the Arab cause.”