PARIS (Jan. 27)
President Anwar Sadat of Egypt arrived at Orly Airport this afternoon to commence a three-day state visit during which he is expected to sign a series of Franco-Egyptian agreements providing for massive sales of French combat aircraft and other military equipment to Egypt and for heavy French investments in civilian projects in that country. It was Sadat’s first official call on a Western European country and French and Egyptian officials here stressed that it was an event far beyond the normal exchange between chiefs of state.
Sadat, accompanied by his wife and two daughters, was greeted at the airport by President Valery Giscard D’Estaing and his wife. The two leaders reviewed an honor guard while a military band played the French and Egyptian national anthems. There were no welcoming speeches but the two Presidents chatted briefly in a salon adjoining the VIP building at Orly.
France mustered all of its traditional pomp and ceremony to greet the Egyptian President, and what were probably the most elaborate security measures in the history of the Republic. But much of the pageantry planned for today was washed out by rain and high winds. The helicopter that was to have flown Sadat to the center of Paris was cancelled and the Presidential party was driven directly to their official residence, the luxurious Hotel Marigny opposite the Elysee Palace, which serves as France’s Blair House.
The rain also forced the replacement of the brilliantly uniformed horse guard by cordons of police motorcyclists. There were few spectators along the route. At the corner of the Rue Du Fauburg St. Honore and the Avenue Marigny, normally one of the city’s busiest intersections, only about 20 persons were on hand–most of them plainclothes detectives–to see the Egyptian President alight from his grey Citroen-Maserati limousine.
In addition, a group of about 28 Jewish militants, members of the Jewish Student Front, gathered near the Elysee Palace and threw thousands of leaflets at the Egyptian President’s car as it arrived. The leaflets showed pictures of Sadat dressed in a Nazi uniform, and read, “No arms for Sadat,” and “Fascist assassin.” Police quickly dispersed the demonstrators and took 10 in for questioning.
MAJOR ATTEMPT BY EGYPT
Sadat’s visit is regarded in diplomatic circles as a major attempt by Egypt to break loose from the pressures exerted on it directly by the Soviet Union and indirectly by the United States. According to these circles, Sadat is seeking political, economic and military aid from France and wants to tighten his ties with this country and the rest of Western Europe as a counter-force to the two super-powers.
Sadat has already said that he will seek from France “large quantities of weapons” now dented him by the Soviet Union. An Egyptian spokesman here said his country would like to obtain “everything it needs in this field.” Judging from preliminary contracts already negotiated in Cairo and due to be signed during Sadat’s stay here, the shopping list is large and money seems to be no object. French business circles have already been informed that Egypt has a $1 billion credit grant from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and that additional grants running into several billion dollars are expected.
What the Arab oil money is expected to buy for Egypt includes the Mirage 111-C and even more sophisticated F-1 supersonic jets for the Egyptian Air Force; Crotale ground-to-air missiles; SS ground-to-ground anti-tank rockets; radar and other electronic equipment; helicopters and tanks.
The French government has reportedly approved a $120 million credit for two nuclear plants, an oil refinery and other major projects in the civilian sector. French sources said they expect “thousands of Frenchmen” to leave for Egypt during the next few years to re-organize that country’s industrial and economic activities. Apparently they will replace the thousands of Soviet technicians and advisors ousted by Sadat in 1970.
Politically, Egypt is said to expect to obtain French and West European backing at the United Nations Security Council where France and Britain are permanent members with veto rights. According to Egyptian sources here, that backing would lift super power pressures on Egypt and would be the first step toward a major alliance between Europe and the Middle Eastern countries with their vast oil supplies and huge market potentialities.
RULES OUT WAR AS SOLUTION
Sadat and Giscard D’Estaing were scheduled to hold their first official meeting late this afternoon to be followed by a state dinner in the Elysee Palace ballroom tonight. No political statement by either leader is expected today. Significantly, on the eve of his departure for France, Sadat said on a television interview in Aswan that he ruled out war as a means of solving the Middle East crisis but that it was up to Israel to make the peace gesture that would permit a political solution.
“I will tell you very frankly, and I am speaking both for Egypt and Syria, that we are not preparing an attack against Israel,” Sadat said. He added, “What I ask is that Israel, if it desires peace, should pull back from three fronts–the Sinai, the Golan Heights and the West Bank of the Jordan–as a gesture of peace. After that, we will go to Geneva. The extent of these retreats is negotiable.” Sadat also affirmed, “I think that after the October, 1973 war it is obvious that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict will not and cannot be found through military action or force.”
Sadat made similar remarks to a group of American journalists and businessmen touring the Middle East under the auspices of Time magazine. According to an interview published today in Time, Sadat said he would consider a preliminary arrangement with Israel and reciprocal de-militarized zones on both sides of the Israeli-Egyptian border.
TWO IRONIC NOTES
There were two ironic notes in President Sadat’s arrival today. First, he landed at Orly Airport where only a week ago three Arab terrorists held 10 persons hostage for 19 hours after failing in a grenade and machinegun attack on an El Al plane.
Secondly, the Hotel Marigny where he and his family will stay during the visit is the former home of the Rothsohilds, the Jewish banking family, which was purchased by the French government in 1972. “Hotel” is the French term for any large privately owned town house or palace. The Marigny Hotel, considered to be the most luxurious residence in Europe, has been redecorated by the government at a reported cost of $5 million and contains priceless works of art and antiques.
The entire area is being guarded by some 10,000 police who form a human wall along the 500 yards that Sadat will traverse on his way to and from the Elysee Palace. Additional guards and sharpshooters have been posted on rooftops and terraces. A police spokesman said that 5000 additional police, gendarmes and sharpshooters have been brought to Paris to bolster the local police. The spokesman said that the security precautions taken for Sadat’s visit are in excess of any taken in the past. Sadat’ will be accompanied by a cordon of French police, security agents and his own personal bodyguard wherever he goes.
MIDEAST PEACE CHANCES BETTER THAN EVER
At the state dinner late tonight, Giscard D’Estaing said that chances were now better than ever for a just Middle East peace. “Technically and diplomatically, we can now see that the nature of a settlement that is fair to all countries involved are greater than they have been up to now,” he said. Sadat responded by praising France’s position on a Mideast settlement, especially its acknowledgement of the rights of the Palestinians.
Following a two-hour meeting with the French President late this afternoon, Sadat told reporters that he was completely satisfied with their first round of discussions. A French spokesman said the two leaders had reviewed all aspects of the Middle East situation and prospects for a settlement. He added that the talks took place in an excellent atmosphere.