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U.S. Readies Warm Welcome for Syrian Foreign Minister

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The United States underlined the importance it attaches to the visit of Syrian Foreign Minister Abda Halim Khaddam who arrives here tomorrow, when the State Department announced today that President Ford will meet with the Syrian Minister at the White House late Friday. Khaddam is expected to contribute Syria’s views to the Administration’s current reassessment of U.S. Middle East policies.

The Syrian Foreign Minister will be greeted by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger when he arrives at Dulles Airport tomorrow afternoon and Kissinger is expected to see him off when he leaves on Saturday. Khaddam will have a luncheon meeting with Kissinger at the State Department Friday and will be feted at a dinner at Blair House to be given by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Joseph J, Sisco.

Reporters noted today that when Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon visited Washington in April he did not meet with President Ford and they recalled that newsmen were told at the time that the President usually does not confer with foreign ministers. State Department spokesman Robert Anderson said that the President of Syria has not visited Washington, and sources here intimated that the President was receiving Khaddam because he was the highest ranking Syrian official to visit the U.S.

The State Department said it was not certain whether the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, Hermann Eilts, who was recalled for consultations, would delay his return to Cairo until after Khaddam’s visit. It was reported from Cairo, meanwhile, that Egyptian officials will not discuss the possible resumption of negotiations for an interim agreement with Israel until after the U.S. completes its Mideast policy reassessment. This led to speculation that Cairo is waiting for the U.S. to reveal its foreign aid program which would include funding for Egypt as well as for Israel, Jordan and Syria.

Asked about published reports that the Soviet Union has temporarily set aside its interest in an early reconvening of the Geneva peace conference, Anderson told reporters that he had discussed the report with the Secretary of State who said he had not been informed of any such decision by Moscow.

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