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Rabin and Kissinger Meet for 7 Hours; Emphasis on Israel’s Need to Be Strong

Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger conferred for seven hours today at Blair House and at the State Department on the Middle East situation in general and on bilateral matters affecting Israel’s financial and military position. While no specific information was officially divulged, it was understood that difficult questions emerged from both sides.

Rabin, emerging from his meeting with Kissinger and facing television cameras with the Secretary at his side, emphasized Israel’s need to be strong to help maintain the peace in the Middle East. He recalled that President Ford said yesterday in his welcoming remarks that the U.S. is committed to a strong Israel.

Asked what Israel’s biggest problem was, Rabin replied “to do whatever possible to prevent war and move toward peace and how to do it from the standpoint of strength.” Kissinger said it was premature to draw conclusions from the talks so far. Rabin agreed, adding that he would not go into details at present since he was only in the middle of his talks with Ford and Kissinger. He did say, however, that they were discussing all possibilities on the next stage of the Middle East peace negotiations.

WAR TALKS ISSUED BY EGYPT

The talks today were held as reports came from the Middle East that 50 Soviet MIGs have been dispatched to Egypt; that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat has given Israel a choice of withdrawal or war; and that Egypt will re-open the Suez Canal this year.

State Department spokesman Robert Anderson said today that he had no information on any of these reports. Evading questions about Sadat’s supposed choice to Israel, Anderson said “Obviously we want the best atmosphere possible to continue on the negotiations track.” Regarding the Suez Canal’s re-opening, Anderson said he had no information but that “we understand it to be the Egyptian policy” and “look forward to it along with construction toward peace and stability.”

Anderson said the U.S. was aware of Soviet arms shipments to Syria but would not discuss that subject. He said “There is nothing to this report at all” when questioned about a report that Secretary Kissinger had intervened to prevent an outbreak of fighting between Israel and Egypt last week.

The breakfast meeting between Rabin and Kissinger, which lasted more than two hours, was attended by Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz. The five-hour working luncheon between the Premier and the Secretary at the State Department was attended by Undersecretary of State Joseph J. Sisco, Ellsworth Bunker, the U.S. Ambassador to the Geneva peace conference and other American officials from the White House and the State Department. Premier Rabin was scheduled to meet this evening with Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger. Vice-Presidential nominee Nelson A. Rockefeller paid what was described as a courtesy call on Rabin.

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