WASHINGTON (Apr. 5)
President Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat after three meetings at the White House appeared today, publicly at least, to be holding to their oft stated positions both on the procedure and substance of a Middle East settlement. The two leaders, who met privately last night after a working dinner hosted by Carter, met again this morning in Carter’s office for what was scheduled to be their concluding session.
In addition, Sadat, who is seeking U.S. weapons including 250 fighter planes that carry Sidewinder missiles and between $5 and $10 billion in American credits, met today at the Capitol with Senate and House committees dealing with foreign affairs and at Blair House with Secretaries of Defense and Treasury. Harold Brown and Michael Blumenthal, respectively.
Sadat told reporters after he left the White House where he held a 95-minute meeting with Carter that he had discussed an arms deal with the President but declined to disclose the outcome. Carter confirmed to reporters that military, economic and political matters were discussed and that Sadat was “helpful in making me understand more of the prospects for permanent peace.” Sadat also presented his case for U.S. arms at his meeting with Brown.
The President was overheard to say to Sadat as they were coming down the walk from the White House to Sadat’s car: “If anything comes up I’d like you to please contact me directly because I think…” Carter’s voice at that point trailed off.
SADAT PRESSES FOR PALESTINIAN PARTICIPATION
In his toast to Sadat at the dinner last night, Carter continued to honor the Egyptian as an individual but did not mention pathways to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. He alluded only obliquely to U.S. material support. Egypt is now receiving more than $900 million in economic aid annually from the United States besides large sums through the World Bank and private American fiscal institutions.
Sadat, however, continued to press Carter for a U.S. endorsement of participation by Palestinians in the settlement process and for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-1967 lines. Neither leader has thus far mentioned United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 or 338 or the Palestine Liberation Organization. Sadat has spoken of a Palestinian “entity” but not a “state.” Some believe this indicates a shift.
After the dinner, as they were preparing to hold their private meeting that Carter had requested, Carter was seen by a pool reporter placing his arm around Sadat and overheard telling him that the Egyptian leader had raised “tough” questions.
The consultation between Carter and Sadat came as PLO chief Yasir Arafat was in Moscow and PLO terrorists stepped up their attacks on Christian villages in southern Lebanon close to the Israeli border. Press reports here said that Syrian forces had switched tactics. Whether these moves in Moscow, Lebanon and Washington were part of a pattern also led to speculation that the Soviet Union was deeply involved in the Middle East in the wake of the setback in Soviet-American relations last week over nuclear disarmament.
CALLS SADAT A CLOSE FRIEND
In his toast, Carter spoke of Sadat as “one of my very close personal friends” and a “man of his word.” He expressed hope that this year “might be a time when we can tap his superb judgment and leadership and make major strides toward permanent peace in the Middle East,”
In an allusion to U.S. aid, Carter said that the “ties that bind Egypt and our country together can be strengthened even further in the weeks ahead.” Responding to Carter, Sadat hailed the President’s statement at Clinton, Mass, about a Palestinian “homeland,” saying it was “welcomed by every Arab.” Sadat emphasized “a dialogue” with the Palestinians “will reassure them and stimulate further moderation.”
However, Sadat also pointed out that the Afro-Arab summit conference in Cairo last month was “a model for enlightened cooperation among nations.” It was at this meeting that the PLO participated and continued to be supported although it refused to alter its charter which calls for the elimination of Israel.
Sadat also told Carter that “what remains to be done” is Israeli withdrawal from “all occupied Arab countries after ’67″ which he said “makes ending the state of war a foregone conclusion.” Carter previously had spoken of peace. Israeli borders, and the Palestine issue as the basic problems. He defined peace as meaning relations between Israel and her Arab neighbors on a basis recognized as normal among the nations of the world.
Dinner guests last night included Sen. Richard Stone (D.Fla.), Robert J. Lipshutz, Counsel to the President; and Stuart Eizenstadt, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs and Policy. Also present was Rep. Toby Moffett (D.Conn.). A White House spokesman could not say why Sen. James Abourezk (D.SD), the most ardent backer in Congress of the Palestinians, was not among the guests.