GENEVA (May. 10)
President Carter’s 31/2 hour meeting with President Hafez Assad of Syria here yesterday differed markedly from his earlier meetings with Middle Eastern leaders in that concrete matters were discussed.
According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, chairman of the National Security Council who participated in the meeting, the two Presidents discussed the possibility of setting up demilitarized zones on both sides of the Israeli-Syrian border and the use of sophisticated electronic advance warning systems such as are presently being operated by Americans, Israelis and Egyptians in Sinai.
Such details are not known to have been discussed at Carter’s meetings with Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt last month or with King Hussein of Jordan who visited the White House earlier this month. To many observers here it appeared that Carter and Assad had begun actual negotiations and did not confine themselves to exploring the possibilities for more formal talks.
On the other hand, American and Syrian sources here stressed that the talks were preliminary explorations that are still not completed. The Americans pointed out that the formulation of the Carter Administration’s policy will not be made until Secretary of State Cyrus Vance completes his second visit to the Middle East next month.
NEED FOR SPEEDY SOLUTION STRESSED
According to Brzezinski, Carter and Assad discussed the nature of peace in the Mideast, borders, security and the Palestinian issue in its immediate ramifications which concern Palestinian representation at a reconvened Geneva conference and in a broader sense apparently meaning a Palestinian homeland.
Both leaders described the world situation as they saw it. Syrian sources said Assad briefed Carter fully on his recent trip to Moscow where he met with Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and on the situation in Lebanon and the entire Arab world. The Syrian sources said Assad stressed that a speedy solution must be found for the Middle East conflict and that the Geneva conference was the last hope.
Syrian sources said after the meeting that Assad was satisfied that he had described his position fully to Carter and that the American President understood it. The Syrians said there was no discussion of Assad’s assertion that the Geneva conference must serve as a framework to implement resolutions of the UN Security Council and General Assembly on the Middle East. They said that this is the current Syrian position and will be raised again if and when the Geneva conference is reconvened.
Carter was accompanied at his meeting with Assad by Vance, Brzezinski and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Alfred Atherton. The meeting was described as a “valuable, extremely friendly and thorough discussion.” The two Presidents dined together and then had a brief private meeting before Carter left for London. The State Department official who translated Carter’s remarks into Arabic for Assad was lsa Sabbagh, described by American officials here as of Egyptian-Jewish origin.