William Paley, chairman of the board of the Columbia Broadcasting System, said yesterday that he had participated in a meeting held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, between Crown Prince Fahd and Henry Kissinger and said that he and Kissinger were received "with great enthusiam and courtesy" by Fahd and the other Arab rules the two men met on a Middle East tour last month.
The Washington Post reported earlier this week in a dispatch from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that Saudi and U.S. sources disputed statements by a Kissinger aide that the former secretary of state had met with Fahd, the day-to-day ruler of the desert kingdom. The reported dispute over the meeting was part of an article that said that Arab leaders had held Kissinger at arm's length on the tour because of their uncertainty about his standing with the new Reagan administration.
The Saudi Information Office in Washington confirmed yesterday that Fahd had met with kissinger. In Saudi Arabia, the government continued to decline to respond to questions from The Washington Post as to whether the meeting had taken place, and still has made no statement on Kissinger's visit beyond a terse dismissal of it as "an exploratory visit by someone outside the administration."
Paley, who said he personally had picked up all the expenses for the trip, took sharp issue with article's tone, saying he and Kissinger had been "received like royalty in every country we went to. The amount of attention we got was almost embarrassing, and when I read something that implies he was looked on with suspicion, it makes me curl."
The CBS executive said he had sat in the meeting with Fahd for about 90 minutes and then Kissinger and the crown prince met privately for about the same period of time. "The prince spoke very intelligently about the problems of the Middle East," Paley said, "and has very good understanding of those problems. He showed great respect for and trust in Henry Kissinger."
Paley said he was not aware that that trip had not been mentioned in the Saudi press and said he could not explain the reports which originated within the royal family, that Fahd had declined to see Kissinger. Those reports were echoed by U.S. officials in Washington who apparently were given the same information made available to The Washington Post in Saudi Arabia.
Paley also put a different light on the refusal of Jordan's King Hussein to let Kissinger visit the kingdom. He confirmed the rejection, but said that "Henry told me Hussein had sent him a very warm letter calling him a friend and a brother and that letter contained an excuse as to why he could not receive us, but that there was nothing negative in it." The Jordanian king sharply attacked Kissinger in two press conferences during the past month.
Stressing that Egypt's Anwar Sadat had warmly welcomed Kissinger into his village home and had praised Kissinger effusively at a press conference, Paley said that "if Sadat disagreed with Henry, I didn't hear it."
The Post reported that Sadat had taken "Polite but direct issue" with Kissinger's call in Cairo for the inclusion of Jordan in the Camp David peace process now, and disagreed publicly with Kissinger's emphasis on American bases in the region. Otherwise, the article noted, Kissinger was warmly received in Egypt, Israel and Somalia, a judgement that Paley underlined yesterday.
He, Kissinger, Mrs. Kissinger and Brooke Astor, a New York friend of Paley's, also visited Oman and Morocco, where they were received by the ruling monarchs.
The Post Article reported that statements from President Reagan's national Security adviser Richard Allen and other officials saying they had not dispatched anyone on behalf of the administration on foreign missions had the effect of undercutting Kissinger in the Middle East While he was in the region.
"I know that Henry has passed on the fresh thinking that he received from the rulers of the area during the trip to President Reagan and [Secretary of State Alexander] Haig," Paley said. "I would think they are very thankful for his efforts."