WASHINGTON (Oct. 17)
Tolcott Seelye, American Ambassador to Syria, met a high Palestine Liberation Organization official, Abu Mazem, at a reception for Rev. Jesse Jackson in Damascus on Oct. 3, but the State Department said today it was “a setup” and “not a discussion.”
“It was not an official contact and was not meant to be,” Department spokesman Hodding Carter said in response to questions after a photograph of the Mazem-Seelye meeting appeared. State Department sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Saudi Arabian Acting Foreign Minister gave the reception, that Seelye, a photographer for the Damascus newspaper. A1 Nawar, took the photograph which was later picked up by other newspapers.
The State Department denied that Seelye and Mazem had a 45-minute talk as reported by journalists. The State Department emphasized that Seelye “immediately” reported the meeting to the Department. Seelye is the third American Ambassador to meet with the PLO in recent months. Ambassador Wolf in Austria were the others.