U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski met Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat at a reception here Wednesday, but no words were exchanged beyond formal greetings, American sources said today.
U.S. sources said Algeria's President Benjadid Chadli introduced Brzezinski to Arafat at a private reception during ceremonies marking the 25th anniversary of Algerian independence from France.
The sources said the two men shook hands "in accordance with civilized practice," but did not engage in conversation.
The United States does not recognize the PLO. Disclosure of his unauthorized meeting with a PLO representative led to Andrew Young's resignation last September as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
A U.S. spokesman in Washington confirmed that Brzezinski and Arafat had met, but said the social gesture had no significance. The spokesman pointed out that President Carter had shaken hands with a Palestinian representative under similar circumstances at the United Nations two years ago.
Chadi reportedly also introduced Brzezinski to leaders from several nations with which the United States is not on friendly terms. Sources in Algiers said these included the defense minister of Vietnam, Vo Nguyen Giap, who has directed Hanoi's campaigns against U.S. and South Vietnamese forces.
Others to whom Brzezinski was introduced during the anniversary week festivities included Muammar Qaddafi, Libya's head of state, and Cuban Vice President Raul Castro, these sources said.
Brzezinski also held secret talks with Iranian Prime Minister Medhi Bazargan on Thursday to discuss the strained relations between Washington and Tehran.