Jerusalem (Nov. 3)
Defense Minister Ariel Sharon will visit Washington November 30 for talks with Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger on strategic cooperation between the U.S. and Israel. He will be preceded some weeks in advance by a high-level Israeli military delegation that will hold preliminary talks to prepare a “memorandum of understanding” for the two officials to sign.
These arrangements were announced by Premier Menachem Begin in the Knesset today. Last week, immediately after the U.S. Senate AWACS vote, Sharon had let it be known to the media that he proposed to postpone his U.S. visit, originally scheduled for sometime in November. His aides said he wanted to demonstrate in this way his “anger” at the way America was veering away from Israel and Camp David, and towards the Saudis. Sharon has also repeatedly accused the U.S. of indirectly arming Iraq, despite official U.S. denials.
SHARON VISIT ‘VERY IMPORTANT’ SAYS BEGIN
Begin told the House that Sharon’s visit and the realization of strategic cooperation first announced during Begin’s meeting with President Reagan in September, was welcome news and was “very important for us and for the whole free world and beneficial to both countries.” He said an invitation to Sharon had arrived from Weinberger Sunday.
The Premier’s announcement was seen by observers here in the context of ongoing American efforts to soothe Israeli anxieties over the perceived tilt of U.S. Mideast policy. Officials in Washington have sought to reassure Israeli diplomats in recent days that the Reagan Administration is not abandoning the Camp David process and that its cautious welcome for the Saudi eight point peace plan was not intended to signal a weakening of commitment to Camp David.