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Rabin, Ford Pledge Continued Cooperation and Friendship for Just, Lasting Middle East Peace

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President Ford and Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin today pledged continuing cooperation and friendship for a just and durable peace in the Middle East during a formal ceremony in a heavy cold rain on the White House lawn. The two leaders standing bare-headed, spoke of their desire to work together for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Following the 27-minute ceremony, attended by 2368 specially-invited guests who stood under umbrellas, the two leaders went into the White House for the first of their two meetings on American-Israeli relations and developments in the Middle East diplomatic process. After his 80-minute meeting with Ford, Rabin went to the State Department for a luncheon hosted by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger.

In a written notices to the press on the 80-minute meeting between Ford and Rabin, White House Press Secretary Ron Nessen reported that “the President reaffirmed long-standing American support for the security of Israel.” He also said that the President noted that “the need now is for all sides to search for ways of continuing the process of mutual compromise and comprehension in order to achieve a just and durable peace settlement.”

Nessen reported that the two leaders reviewed the United Nations Security Council debate and various aspects of U.S.-Israeli relations. “The President stressed the importance for these talks (with Rabin) for developing ideas on how next to move as part of our overall consultations with the parties involved. He repeated his determination to avoid a hiatus in negotiations.”

The White House lawn ceremony officially opened Rabin’s 11-day visit to the U.S. which began yesterday in Philadelphia when the Israeli leader participated in a Bicentennial ceremony at the Liberty Bell. Instead of arriving at the White House by helicopter as originally scheduled, Rabin came to Washington in a Presidential plane and then he and Mrs. Rabin were driven to the White House from a nearby air force base.

Ford, greeting Rabin with “shalom,” said that the Premier’s visit will “renew happy memories.” He told Rabin that “your visit gives me the opportunity to reaffirm on behalf of the American people the enduring friendship of our two countries, the traditional commitment of the United States to Israel’s security and survival and the dedication of the United States to seek with Israel’s cooperation a peaceful comprehensive and just solution to the conflict in the Middle East.”

SEIZE HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY

The President stressed that the task of Israel its Arab neighbors and the U.S. was “to realize the goal of peace together with realism and justice. Let us seize this historic opportunity to translate this hope into reality.”

Taking note of the weather, Rabin opened his remarks by noting that in Jewish tradition rain means blessings. He pointed out that he was the first head of government to visit the United States during the Bicentennial and wished “shalom” to “all communities across your great country, including the Jewish community with whom we have a profound historic spiritual tie.”

Rabin noted that America’s Bicentennial was also being observed in Israel. “We do so because of the debt that Israel and the whole free world owes to this great country.”

The Premier pledged his government’s efforts to bring peace between Israel and the Arab countries. He praised Ford for his untiring efforts and guidance to “America’s indispensable role” in the peace process. He said Ford’s name will go down in history for his work for peace in the world. Mrs. Rabin, who wore a fur coat and hat, was presented with a large bouquet of roses.

At tonight’s black-tie dinner being given by President and Mrs. Ford for Premier and Mrs. Rabin, some 160 guests have been invited, almost double the usual attendance at the White House functions of this kind.

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