NEW YORK (Feb. 27)
President Anwar Sadat of Egypt insisted today that “We Arabs are ready for peace now.” He said 1977 should be the turning point of the Arab-Israeli conflict but warned that “the United States should use its utmost power” toward that end because without the U.S. there was no chance for peace in the Mideast.
Replying to questions on the ABC-TV “Issues and Answers” program, Sadat stressed his proposed linkage between Jordan and a Palestinian state, denied emphatically that Egypt was still receiving arms from the Soviet Union and commented on Israel’s domestic politics.
He said he hoped that country’s general elections May 17 would pave the way for its full participation in the Geneva peace process. In order to reach peace “we need a solid domestic situation in Israel,” Sadat said. He discounted the rift between Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres on grounds that there was little difference between “doves” and “hawks” in Israel.
Sadat said his proposed Palestinian-Jordan linkage was nothing new, that he had made the suggestion in 1974 after talks with Jordan’s King Hussein and that since then PLO chief Yasir Arafat and Syria have agreed to the idea. He did not know if the recent disclosure of CIA payments to Hussein would hurt his linkage proposal.
Sadat noted that the PLO leadership will soon meet in Cairo. Asked if he would attempt to get the PLO to accept arrangements for its participation in the Geneva conference, he said he would try. But he asked, why must the PLO always be urged to recognize Israel; why can’t there be a mutual “coming together” on the points involved?
DENIES GETTING ARMS FROM THE USSR
Sadat assured the panel of reporters that “We have received no arms or parts from the Soviet Union or any Communist bloc country.” He said that after two years of waiting he was just notified that the Soviet Union would ship 120 refurbished MIGs to Egypt but he was skeptical. “When they arrive I will tell the whole world,” Sadat said. Asked what he would do if the U.S. refuses to sell arms to Egypt. Sadat said in that case “I will be asking other markets. I will get them where I can. All I am asking for is defensive arms to defend my country.”
The Egyptian leader said he was grateful to President Carter for the $500 million economic aid extended to Egypt and for canceling the proposed sale of concussion bombs to Israel. Sadat referred to reports from “reliable” sources that Israel possesses a stock of nuclear weapons. He said he would like to see a nuclear arms ban in the Middle East emerge from the Geneva conference.