U.S. Willing to Try Again if Israel and Egypt Ask

The White House today described last month’s breakdown of Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s mediation efforts in the Middle East as a “suspension” of U.S. initiatives in the region and said “We would do what we could to help if they (Egypt and Israel) ask us” to try again. White House Press Secretary Ron Nessen made those remarks to reporters after announcing that President Ford had conferred today with the U.S. Ambassadors to Israel, Egypt, Syria and Jordan.

The envoys have been in Washington for almost three weeks in connection with the “reassessment” of American Middle East policy ordered by President Ford after Kissinger’s shuttle mission broke down. Today’s meeting was the first the President has held with the ambassadors to Israel and its neighboring states.

Kissinger, who was present at the meeting, has conferred with the four envoys collectively on at least two occasions since they were called home. Asked if Kissinger would return to the region, Nessen replied “We would do what we could if they ask us.” Nessen said that he had not heard that Ford will receive Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon when he visits Washington, probably on April 21, to meet with Kissinger.

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