JERUSALEM (Mar. 13)
Defense Minister Shimon Peres, a member of the Israeli negotiating team engaged in talks with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, said last night that he does not yet know what the outcome will be of Kissinger’s current efforts to arrange a second stage agreement between Israel and Egypt in Sinai. He said that even if Kissinger’s “shuttle” diplomacy is eventually successful, “a difficult period will ensue” and peace would not necessarily follow.
Peres spoke at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba where Israel’s outgoing UN Ambassador, Yosef Tekoah, was installed as president yesterday. (See separate story.) He said the basic problem was that peace between Israel and Egypt was not merely a geographical issue but “an exercise in public relations” in which the Egyptian leadership would have to transform the thinking processes of the Egyptian population.
Peres said that Egypt had ample objective motovation to want to reach a peaceful relationship with Israel after 27 years of hot and cold war. He said he was optimistic that in the long run, real peace would finally be achieved. In the meantime, he urged Israelis to “believe in themselves.”
Reports from Cairo today quoted Kissinger as saying that he was “making progress” toward a new Israeli-Egyptian disengagement agreement “but very slowly, as expected.” The Secretary told reporters that he believed both countries “want an agreement and are working seriously toward it. Whether it is possible to match the requirements of the two sides remains to be seen.”
Kissinger met with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Aswan yesterday and today. Between the meetings, Sadat conferred with his top ministers. The Secretary is due to return to Jerusalem tomorrow for further talks with Israeli leaders and is scheduled to go to Damascus and Amman on Saturday. He is expected to be back in Israel Sunday and return to Aswan Monday. By then, sources said, he hopes to have the outline of an agreement that he could present to the Egyptian leaders.