WASHINGTON (Feb. 25)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger left today for his fourth trip to the Middle East with high hopes of helping to bring about a Syrian-Israeli military disengagement on the Golan Heights and with the possibility that he will meet Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in Cairo next week.
Undersecretary of State Joseph J. Sisco, who is in the small party accompanying Kissinger, told newsmen before takeoff, “I think the whole atmosphere has been more favorable” than in the past. But he denied that Kissinger has a plan by which to achieve disengagement. “We don’t go there with any pre-packaged plan of our own,” Sisco said. “We go there to listen” to Arabs and Israelis.
The Kissinger party will spend overnight in London where the Secretary will meet with British Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home and then go to Damascus tomorrow and Wednesday to Israel. While it is being reported that Syria will give Kissinger the names of Israeli POWs and that he will show the list to the Israelis, this report has not yet been confirmed.
Egyptian officials in Moscow said, according to information received here, that Gromyko will visit Cairo next week and there is more than “a remote possibility” that he will see Kissinger there. The State Department had disclosed last week that it is “in touch” with Soviet officials on the disengagement effort. This was understood to mean Soviet officials are to intercede with their ally Syria, on the POW names and International Red Cross visits to the prisoners.
BINGHAM CAUTIONS KISSINGER
Meanwhile, as Kissinger was on his way to the Mideast, Rep. Jonathan V. Bingham (D.NY) cautioned the Secretary to be “fully understanding and supportive of the insistence of the Israelis that they must hold on” to the Golan Heights they gained in the Six-Day War. “The exact line to be drawn on the Heights,” he told the House of Representatives, “can be forged out in negotiations but no one should expect the Israelis to return to the bottom of the hills.”
Bingham recalled that the Israelis before the 1967 war had “only a narrow strip a few hundred yards wide at the foot of those hills, utterly at the mercy of any sniping, any artillery fire, any shooting from up above on the Heights.”