WASHINGTON (Apr. 20)
The State Department announced today that Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan “will be coming here toward the end of next week” for talks with U.S. officials and that Ambassador-at-Large Alfred L. Atherton will return to Washington from the Middle East “to be present for this visit.” Atherton is en route to Cairo for meetings with Egyptian leaders and had originally intended to go from there to Israel.
Department spokesman Tom Reston said that “final arrangements are still being worked out” for Dayan’s visit and that the Israeli Foreign Minister “will be staying about a couple of days.” There was no word yet as to whether Administration officials will meet with Israeli Premier Menachem Begin when he comes to the U.S. early next month.
Asked about press reports that Israel did not want Atherton to come there during his current trip, Reston said: “There’s nothing to the story. The government of Israel has informed us that it would welcome a visit from Ambassador Atherton during his current Middle East visit. It makes sense for Ambassador Atherton to be back in the U.S. for Foreign Minister Dayan’s visit. Obviously, Atherton is going to be very crucially involved in these negotiations.”
(In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry officials said today that a formal invitation for Dayan to visit Washington had not yet been received. Dayan, it was stated, would return from Washington before a scheduled visit by Begin to the United States the beginning of next month to participate in celebrations of Israel’s 30th anniversary.)