WASHINGTON (Dec. 30)
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s six-day Middle East visit, using a private plane and without public sanction of President-elect Ronald Reagan, is shrouded in mystery and speculation about it abounds.
Kissinger’s first stop was Egypt where he conferred with top Egyptian officials, including President Anwar Sadat at his residence in the Nile delta village of Mit Koeul-Kom 50 miles north of Cairo. They met privately to discuss Jordan’s possible entry into the Middle East peace process based on the Comp David formulas
According to reports, Kissinger was said to have set forth the thesis of Jordan entering the negotiating process with U.S. encouragement possibly to establish a federation between Jordan and most of the West Bank and Gaza. Jordan’s entry has been espoused by Reagan and his chief foreign policy advisor, Richard Allen, who has been named National Security Advisor by the President-elect.
Reportedly, Sadat feels Jordan should not be allowed to enter on terms it seeks — including control over East Jerusalem, and he doesn’t appreciate Jordanian King Hussein’s maneuvers since the Camp David agreements in 1978. According to reports from Cairo, Sadat said yesterday that he does not see a role for Jordan in the peace talks at this time. He told reporters he apposed a Jordanian role until after Egypt and Israel conclude their autonomy talks.
Kissinger’s trip will include visits to Morocco and Oman, both of which are facing internal strife from allegedly Soviet-backed rebels and neighbors, Saudi Arabia and Israel. He isn’t going to Jordan, presumably because Hussein isn’t in the country.
RULES OUT LINOWITZ-TYPE ROLE
Kissinger was reported in Cairo as saying he would be willing to serve the Reagan Administration in an advisory capacity but ruled out accepting the role now held by Sol Linowitz, President Carter’s envoy who sought on Egyptian Israeli agreement on the West Bank and Gaza.
Knowledgeable sources here say Kissinger received Reagan’s blessing for his journey but that the President-elect did not wish at this time to give any impression that before his inauguration Jan. 20 he is intruding in the peace process one report quoted Reagan as saying. When Kissinger told him about the trip, Reagan replied he thought that was “fine” and that he would be interested in his findings.
These sources noted that Kissinger’s motivation is that he has been given assurances of an advisory role in the Reagan Administration and that he is now establishing himself as the prime expert on the Arab Middle East by updating his knowledge of the prevailing circumstances in key countries with which the U.S. must deal in the Arab world and on bringing about progress in settling the Arab-Israeli situation. Rather than being another Linowitz — an emissary for Egyptian-Israeli matters — Kissinger would be reportedly the over-all Arab expert.
That Kissinger went to the Middle East privately is not unprecedented. Former Texas Governor John Connolly went out there two months ago, before the presidential election, and without fanfare. The guessing is that Connolly also wants to be a super-specialist on the area, with leanings towards Saudi Arabia’s perceptions.
An undetermined aspect of Kissinger’s future role is to whom he would be responsible in the Reagan government. The guessing is that he would not be subordinate to Allen or Secretory of State-designate Alexander Haig, both of whom were his subordinates in the Nixon-Ford years. Rather, he would report directly to the President.