Kissinger and Israeli Leaders to Discuss ‘modalities’ and U.S. Attitude Toward the PLO

Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger arrived at Ben Gurion Airport from Damascus this evening and went directly to Jerusalem for meetings tonight and tomorrow morning with Premier Yitzhak Rabin. Foreign Minister Yigal Allon and Defense Minister Shimon Peres. Informed sources said, before Kissinger’s arrival, that the Secretary was expected to discuss with Israeli leaders the “modalities”–meaning the time, place and level–of partial settlement talks with Egypt.

Their assessment was based on U.S.-Israel contacts during the past week that Implied that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat has given the green light to a second round of Israeli-Egyptian talks despite the hard line taken at the Arab summit meeting in Rabat.

Foreign Minister Allon told a special meeting of the Cabinet several hours before Kissinger’s arrival that the Secretary would be questioned about recent White House statements which intimated that the U.S. may be about to change its policy on the Palestine Liberation Organization. (See separate story.)

Before leaving Damascus today, Kissinger stated that he and President Hafez Assad of Syria had resolved to maintain their present contacts and continue them in the very near future. He also said that Irrespective of those contacts, the U.S. and Syria have decided to foster friendly relations between them.

EFFORT TO KEEP PEACE MOMENTUM GOING

Israeli sources said tonight that the primary American aim is to keen the momentum of Middle East peace moves going. They predicted that Kissinger would urge Israel not to regard the Rabat resolutions recognizing the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people as closing the door on a further dialogue with Egypt.

These sources believe that Sadat is interested in getting a new round of talks with Israel under way before Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid 1. Brezhnev’s scheduled visit to Cairo in Jan. Sadat wants to show the Kremlin leader that he has achieved further progress with the aid of Kissinger and thereby retain his freedom of man ever vis-a-vis Moscow and the Soviet’s Mideast clients, the sources said. They acknowledged that there are wide differences between the Israeli and Egyptian approaches to a second-stage settlement, but noted that Kissinger prefers to Ignore differences at this stage and concentrate on getting the talks going.

But Israelis are apprehensive over a possible U.S. switch on the PLO that would veer toward a greater measure of recognition of the terrorist group. Allon’s statement to the Cabinet that Kissinger would be questioned on this matter was contained in an official Cabinet communique released tonight. It indicated the seriousness with which Israel views a recent press conference remark by President Ford mentioning “either Jordan or the PLO” as possible negotiating partners with Israel.

White House Press Secretary Ronald Nessen said yesterday that “The U.S. recognizes that full consideration must be given to the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people.” Israel was assured later that there was no change in U.S. policy on the Palestinian Issue. But the White House spokesman refused to retract Ford’s earlier press conference remark.

The Secretary will attend a working dinner with Rabin, Peres and Allon tonight and a second working session tomorrow morning to be followed by lunch with Allon. Kissinger’s wife, Nancy, arrived from Amman via the Allen by Bridge tonight to Join Kissinger in Jerusalem.

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