Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger met today with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in Geneva to discuss, among other topics, the role of the USSR in the Middle East peace efforts. There was some indication here that the Secretary will try to convince the Soviet diplomat that the United States and Kissinger’s own shuttle diplomacy is not intended to freeze out the Soviet Union from involvement in Mideast peace activities. (See P. 3 for Kissinger-Gromyko talks in Geneva.)
Kissinger indicated before his departure that his talks with Gromyko might influence the course he will take in his latest Mideast peace mission which is to focus on the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian troops on the Golan Heights The Secretary said at a press conference here Friday that he would talk to Gromyko about the Soviet role in the Middle East and that what happened after that would guide him on his other stops in various Mideast capitals.
The Secretary is expected to remain in the Middle East for about 17 days–his fifth visit to the region in six months. His schedule includes a stopover in Algiers late this afternoon, a visit to Egypt tomorrow, arrival in Israel Thursday and from there to Damascus. Observers here also received the impression during his talks with reporters that Kissinger was uncertain whether the main purpose of his current Mideast journey would be successful. He indicated that he might also visit Jordan but noted that a “great deal” depended on the number of trips he would have to make between Jerusalem and Damascus.
ROGERS PLAN NO LONGER OPERATIVE
Kissinger indicated to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that U.S. policy no longer envisions “insubstantial changes” in Israel’s pre-1967 frontiers based on Security Council Resolution 242, nor does its “balance of power” principle between Israel and her neighbors continue to prevail. Replying to a JTA question at his news conference, the Secretary said:
“Present conditions are not the conditions in which the previous incumbent (Secretary of State William P. Rogers) conducted foreign policy and therefore I see no point in commenting on proposals he may have made for years previously.” He reiterated that the U.S. “is committed to the security and survival of Israel and this commitment has not changed.” He did not elaborate on the nature of that commitment.
His attitude toward the Soviet Union appeared to be conciliatory. He declined to criticize a Soviet-Syrian communique issued last week in which the Russians pledged continued military support for Syria in the fighting that has been going on for six weeks on the Israeli-Syrian front. Kissinger also declined to comment on reports several days ago that Soviet ships loaded with war materiel had passed through the Dardanelles enroute to Syria.
“I do not interpret the (Soviet-Syrian) communique as criticism of U.S. efforts” to effect a disengagement accord between Syria and Israel. Kissinger stated. When asked if the USSR was helping or hindering those efforts. Kissinger reiterated that the Soviet Union has an interest in the Middle East negotiating process and that the U.S. considers it in the “framework of the Geneva conference” in which the Soviet Union was a participant. Kissinger said there was “no exclusive role” for the U.S. in the region and that was why he was meeting with Gromyko before proceeding to the Middle East.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.