Carter Pleased by Begin-sadat Statements

President Carter considers the exchange of statements by Israeli Premier Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat “a good omen for the future.” Presidential News Secretary Jody Powell quoted the President’s reaction to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today following the State Department’s indication that it was cool to the idea of a visit by Sadat to Israel.

Powell said that the idea of an American professor of Palestinian origin representing the Palestinians at the Geneva conference did not come from the U.S. “It was not originated here,” he said.

However, he would not go into details as to whether Sadat actually presented the idea to Carter or when it was initiated. State Department spokesman Hodding Carter had said earlier in the day that the proposal was raised at a meeting between Carter and Sadat.

(Meanwhile, Israel television reported that Sadat told an American television newsman today that he expects to visit Israel “very shortly” and did not put any preconditions before meeting with Begin. Sadat said once in Israel he would like to meet with Knesset members before seeing Begin. “I want the people of Israel to know that I really want peace,” he was reported as saying.

(Former Foreign Minister Yigal Allon of the opposition Labor Alignment told the Knesset today that Sadat’s statement that he wants to visit Israel should not be taken lightly. Begin is expected to extend a formal invitation to Sadat when he addresses the Knesset tomorrow.)

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