Israel Cabinet Holds Special Meeting; Hears Report on Harriman Talk
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Israel Cabinet Holds Special Meeting; Hears Report on Harriman Talk

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The Israel Cabinet held a special meeting today to discuss the five days of talks between Israeli Government leaders and Undersecretary of State W. Averell Harriman which ended last night. No joint communique was issued by Premier Levi Eshkol and Mr. Harriman following the conclusion of the talks, as originally anticipated. However, Mr. Harriman issued a personal statement before his departure. He said:

“My discussions with Israeli officials have been friendly, frank and useful. They confirmed not only the points of tension which have recently arisen in the area with new intensity, but also Israeli relations with friendly countries. As a result of our talks, I believe the Israeli Government is fully aware of United States Government views and I am now able to report clearly to President Johnson the views of the Israeli Government.

“This exchange of views will be continued through diplomatic channels,” the statement continued. “It is a cardinal tenet of United States policy to do whatever is possible to help promote stability and peace in the Near East. I am confident our talks have been useful and I leave tremendously impressed with the vigor and determination of this country and its progress since my visit a decade ago.”


Authoritative sources here said the talks marked certain “progress” in United States attitudes about supplying Israel with direct military aid. They said the issue was not settled because the United States views it as part of a wider situation and wishes to tie it to reaching an agreed formula on Israel’s tap of the Jordan River waters for its national irrigation project.

The United States, it was reported, feels that even if the Arabs try to divert a small part of the water, Israel should not consider this an act of aggression though Israel has warned that it would. In the course of the talks, Premier Levi Eshkol reiterated that Israel could not give up freedom of action in matters where its most vital interests were involved.

The talks reportedly ranged over a wide field and they included the question of the possibility of a “global agreement” on a policy line. The talks were considered to represent the most comprehensive exchange of views between Israel and the United States ever held, Israeli officials were not ready to go beyond “guarded optimism” about the talks. However, they said, the talks had made the Israeli position clear. The also brought out the fact that Israel will insist on unambiguous agreements to avoid future disagreements and possible pitfalls.

(In Moscow, the Communist party newspaper Pravda, today assailed Mr. Harriman’s trip as an “anti-Arab” move. Pravda accused the United States of planning to replace canceled West German arms shipments to Israel “so that there should be no let-up in the common efforts to help Israel build up its military might.”)

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