WASHINGTON (Sep. 1)
President Ford in a statement today declared that the interim agreement between Egypt and Israel was fair and balanced, reduced the risk of war in the Middle East and provides the opportunity for further progress toward peace in the area. Ford, in personal telephone calls to Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, congratulated the three for achieving the agreement.
Ford’s telephone calls were made at his Camp David retreat in Maryland and were recorded and released to the press. He praised both Rabin and Sadat for their statesmanship and courage in working out the accord despite the opposition both faced. He invited Sadat to make his first visit to the United States this fall and urged Rabin to come to Washington again soon.
SAYS CONGRESS WILL APPROVE PACT
In his talks with both the Israeli and Egyptian leaders, Ford stressed that “you can rest assured that we will work with you to see that the agreement is carried out not only in the spirit but the letter.” Ford also sought to assure them that Congress would approve the agreement.
He told Kissinger, who is returning to Washington Wednesday night, that he has scheduled a meeting of Congressional leaders in the White House Thursday morning, to discuss the agreement. Some congressional opposition has developed over the sending of American civilians to man the Sinai electronic warning systems.
Ford’s telephone conversations with Kissinger and Rabin were clear but the President was unable to hear most of Sadat’s replies which were garbled. Congratulating Rabin, Ford noted that the Israeli had achieved the Israeli approval “under most trying circumstances.” “It was not a very easy decision,” Rabin replied. “But we have decided it is time to take risks, and I stress to take risks, for an opening to peace.” Rabin expressed the hope that the agreement will lead to tranquility in the Mideast and at least to improved relations with Egypt.
PROMISES TO ISRAEL, EGYPT
Ford also promised to continue Washington’s close relationship with Israel, Rabin, in thanking Ford, Kissinger and the U.S. for their efforts also expressed gratitude for “the special relationship” between Israel and the U.S. In his talk to Sadat, Ford promised to develop American relations with Egypt and which he said will help lead the Mideast to peace.
Ford told Kissinger he would be on hand to greet him upon his return Wednesday night. “I am very grateful for the tremendous effort you have made,” the President told Kissinger. “This is a great achievement, one of the most historic of this decade, perhaps this century,” the President said, Kissinger, in his reply, noted, “We spent more time, on the Middle East, you and I, than on any other problem. I think it (the agreement) gives peace a chance in this area.”
In his statement which the White House released, Ford said he was deeply gratified by the accord and proud of the American contribution. “The interim agreement…reduces the risk of war in the Middle East and provides fresh opportunities for further progress toward peace for a troubled area whose turmoil has affected the lives and prosperity of peoples of all nations.” Kissinger and Ford both noted in their telephone conversation that a stalemate could not have been tolerated in the area because of the military and economic dangers to the world.
U.S. PERSONNEL WILL BE CIVILIANS
Earlier, Ford emphasized over the weekend that any Americans who might be sent to the Middle East in connection with the Israeli-Egyptian Sinai pact would be civilians and would not serve in any military capacity. The President made his remarks in Newport, Rhode Island, Saturday during a one-day trip to New England. He was questioned by reporters about Congressional concern over the role Americans might play as supervisory technicians at an Israeli early warning radar station in the Gidi and Mitle Passes region.
The President said, “If there are a limited number of American civilians who go to the Middle East, they would go in an area controlled by the United Nations in a non-combat capacity acting as technicians.” He stressed that “A decision has not been made, but I can assure you that if they go they will be civilians, technicians, not military personnel and they will be in a United Nations zone.”