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U.S. Pleased That Sadat Favors Step-by-step Negotiations

The United States “is obviously pleased” that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat has reaffirmed his desire for a step-by-step approach towards a Middle East settlement, the State Department said today. Sadat expressed this view in an interview published yesterday in the Paris newspaper, Le Monde, in which he also said, “I am ready to conclude a peace agreement with Israel.”

State Department spokesman Robert Anderson would not comment on other elements of the extensive interview. He specifically said “No comment” on the statement by Sadat which Le Monde published that “I can assure you that Washington will soon recognize the representativeness of the PLO. It would then be up to the United States and the USSR as guarantors of the cease-fire in the Near East to invite the PLO to sit down at the Geneva negotiating table.”

Anderson said he was not aware of reports that the Soviet Union has resumed shipping arms to Egypt nor that Saudi Arabia is seeking 50 additional warplanes from the U.S. He also said that to his knowledge the U.S. has never considered the possibility of a military base in Israel. It was reported that when Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon was here last week the possibility of such a base was discussed.

Meanwhile White House Press Secretary Ron Nessen told newsmen that the United States was examining an Israeli request for new aid. Nessen said that it was premature to discuss any figure but a proposal would be included in President Ford’s proposed budget which will be sent to Congress early next month. Asked if new aid to Israel was contingent on a Middle East peace settlement, Nessen replied, “I am not aware that it is.” Israel reportedly has asked the U.S. for $1.5 billion in military aid and for some $600 million for economic assistance during the fiscal year beginning next July 1.

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