WASHINGTON (Dec. 17)
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat has warned that the Middle East is a bomb ready to explode and that this bomb must be defused by continuing the momentum of the progress of peace either through United States step-by-step negotiations or through the resumption of the Geneva peace talks.
In an interview with Iranian publisher Farhad Massoudi, Sadat said that definite progress toward a peace settlement must be achieved if Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger wants to continue his negotiations. These views by Sadat were seen here as a move by Egypt to return to the good grace of the Soviet Union and a warning to the U.S. that it must put more pressure on Israel to make further territorial concessions.
Sedat’s statements were seen as a significant shift toward a harder line with the U.S. especially in light of Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmy’s demand that Israel freeze her immigration for 50 years and the visit next month by Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev to Cairo.
In his interview, Sadat stated, “If Americans through their step-by-step approach can achieve any progress or success, I welcome it.” If not, he added, Egypt favors the resumption of the Geneva talks, a tactic also favored by the Soviet Union. Explaining what he meant by defusing the Mideast bomb, Sadat said: “When I say defuse the bomb, I mean the momentum of the progress of peace must continue. It started with disengagement agreements. It should have continued since then. There has been a slack. We must revive the momentum.”
CONTACTS WITH FORD, KISSINGER
Asked how much time he is willing to give Kissinger, Sadat replied: “I am now having contacts with President. Ford and Dr. Kissinger, and we shall see in the near future what will be the result and after that we shall decide.” Sadat had been invited to Washington by President Nixon when the former chief executive was in Cairo last spring. While there is no official date yet set for this visit, State Department officials said the invitation still stands.
Sadat’s views in his interview were also attributed by some here to the mounting criticism in Congress regarding the proposed sale of nuclear reactors to Israel, and particularly to Egypt. Last June Nixon offered to sell nuclear power plants to both countries. The U.S. asked that each nation agree to accept strict American safeguards and place these plants and all future atomic facilities under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
U.S. PREPARED TO NEGOTIATE ATOMIC REACTORS
Israel has reportedly said it is no longer interested in atomic power plants and the U.S. is now pondering whether or not to go ahead and still offer these facilities to Egypt. The next move, according to sources, is up to Egypt to decide if she wants the facilities on the terms laid down by the U.S. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union has offered Egypt an atomic power plant and this offer is expected to be discussed when Brezhnev visits Cairo.
However, State Department spokesman Robert Anderson said today that the United States is prepared to proceed with negotiations on the reactors with Egypt and Israel either separately or together. He said the agreement did not hinge on one country accepting the offer and the other not. Anderson said he did not want to get into details of discussions going on over safeguards.