WASHINGTON (Nov. 28)
The United States continued today to defer its decision on Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s invitation to attend a multilateral meeting in Cairo to prepare the groundwork for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict at a conference in Geneva.
The invitation is “under active discussion,” the State Department’s chief spokesman, Hodding Carter, said. “I don’t have anything on the who, the how or what” of the Sadat invitation “and on the whether. All aspects are being discussed right now in Washington with all the parties.”
Carter said that Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin was with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance at the State Department for 40 minutes this morning talking about the Middle East and that U.S. officials are talking with the Arab governments and Israel. Syria, he observed, is among them.
“We simply cannot right at this point give an immediate response,” Carter said with respect to the Sadat invitation, “until we have completed the process of consultations.”
SAY U.S. HELPED PROCESS
He pointed out that “we do feel the general process” towards a settlement initiated by the United States “has made it possible for Egypt and Israel to make this leap, this break” towards face-to-face meetings. He added, “As to our response to each step in the initiative (by Sadat) is concerned, we have a responsibility that goes outside just one or two (parties), that is, we are trying to deal with all the parties.” He excluded the Palestine Liberation Organization from these talks.
Carter said that “the basic thrust” of U.S. policy “remains the same” and that the U.S. will “welcome any progress” in both the procedural and substantive factors that would lead towards a Geneva meeting and a comprehensive settlement. He said the U.S. did not know of Sadat’s invitation to a Cairo meeting until “the night before” it was given although the U.S. did know of the “idea” for the meeting prior to then.
JEWISH LEADERS URGE CARTER TO RESPOND
(In New York, a number of Jewish leaders today urged Carter to accept Sadat’s invitation. “A few days more or less is not overly critical, but I would hope that Washington would respond as quickly as possible,” Naomi Levine, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, declared. “I think the more delay, the more danger there is of losing momentum.”
(Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, sent a telegram to Carter urging him to end the “unseemly delay” in responding to Sadat. “The United States has consistently urged the Middle East nations to deal seriously with the questions of peace,” Sternstein’s telegram said. “Sadat’s invitation is a step in that direction.”
(Alexander M. Schindler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, also sent a telegram to Carter urging him to accept Sadat’s invitation “so that our country may be represented at this vitally important summit. The momentum created by the historic face-to-face meeting in Jerusalem last week must not be halted, lest the forces that still plan Israel’s destruction win the day.”)