Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin will visit here at the end of July for his first talks with President Reagan since the start of the Lebanon war a year ago, U.S. and Israeli sources said yesterday.
The sources said U.S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis met with Israeli officials yesterday to fix a date, and that the White House hopes to make the formal announcement today.
The news came as David Kimche, director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, met with senior State Department officials to discuss ways of inducing Syria to cooperate in the withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon.
Implementation of the Israeli-Lebanese withdrawal agreement worked out last month with the aid of Secretary of State George P. Shultz has been blocked by Syria's hostility toward the accord. Israel says it will not pull its troops out of Lebanon unless there is simultaneous withdrawal by Syrian forces and Palestine Liberation Organization units in Lebanon under Syrian protection.
Sources on both sides denied that Kimche's talks involved discussion of a unilateral Israeli pullback to more defensible positions in southern Lebanon. Despite denials by Israeli officials, there has been persistent speculation that Israel, which has suffered substantial casualties in guerrilla ambushes, has been planning such a move.
That speculation had sparked rumors that Kimche was asked to come here as part of an American effort to dissuade Israel from redeploying its forces. In actuality, the sources said, his trip had been planned long before talk of a redeployment came to the fore in Israel; they added that the Begin government has agreed to give the United States more time to pursue its efforts with Syria before deciding about a pullback.
The sources did acknowledge that the emphasis in Kimche's talks with Lawrence S. Eagleburger, undersecretary of state for political affairs, and Nicholas A. Veliotes, assistant secretary for Mideast affairs, was on exploring ways of bringing Washington's limited leverage to bear on Syria.
In particular, Kimche was understood to have pressed the idea that the United States should try to persuade the 11-nation European Economic Community to adopt a resolution calling for Syrian cooperation on Lebanon.
The administration has been hopeful that its European allies will speak out, individually or through the EEC, but U.S. officials said privately that some Common Market members have been reluctant to make public gestures that might strain the EEC's ties with the Arab world.
Begin and Reagan last met a year ago shortly after Israel invaded Lebanon. A November visit was called off when Begin's wife died. Subsequent strains in U.S.-Israeli relations caused Reagan to make known that Begin would not be welcome here until there was an agreement on Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon.
However, relations have warmed dramatically in the aftermath of the Israeli-Lebanese agreement.