WASHINGTON (Aug. 12)
The extent of a U.S. political commitment to Israel covering Israel’s second withdrawal in Sinai was believed to be the main element of discussion between State Department and two Israeli officials here today in the first of a series of high level bilateral meetings this week.
Department spokesman, Robert Funseth, acknowledged that he was unaware of parallel discussions between the U.S. and Egypt although he noted Washington is in “communication” with the Cairo government. This lent substance to the speculation that what the Israelis and Americans are talking about is the nature of an American assurance against further Egyptian inroads in Sinai for a stipulated period.
Some said that Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin wants a letter from President Ford that would assert a pledge from Egyptian President Anwar Sadat that he will not oppose the continuation of United Nations buffer forces in Sinai for the next three years. The language of the Ford letter that would commit Egypt is a main element of the talks between Undersecretary of State Joseph J. Sisco and Assistant Secretary Alfred Atherton with Mordechai Gazit, director general of the Premier’s Office, Meir Rosenne, the Foreign Ministry’s legal advisor, and Ambassador Simcha Dinitz.
TALKS TERMED PRELIMINARY
Informed sources here indicated the military aspects of the second Sinai withdrawal have been completed although the formalities of some language remains. Israel will retreat to the east of the Mitle and Gidi Passes and give up the Abu Rodeis oil fields, while a few Americans will monitor some electronic equipment between the new lines, according to these sources.
Under questioning, Funseth continued to say that the political talks are “still preliminary” and a “part of the whole process” of negotiation. He would not confirm persistent reports that rooms have been reserved at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem for Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger who is understood to be ready to renew his shuttle diplomacy about Aug. 20 if the two sides are close together. Kissinger said yesterday that he would decide on another shuttle within 10 days.
The Israeli and U.S. political specialists will meet again tomorrow morning after Sisco opens the economic side of the talks. In this session, a four-member Israeli team and Dinitz will set forth Israel’s needs to U.S. specialists from the State and Treasury Departments, the National Security Council and the Agency for International Development (AID).