Sadat Says He Decided to Negotiate with Begin After Ceausescu Told Him Begin Genuinely Wanted Peace

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat revealed in a television interview shown last night that he decided to seek negotiations directly with Israeli Premier Menachem Begin after Rumanian President Nicolae Ceausescu assured him that Begin was a strong leader who genuinely wanted peace. At the same time, Sadat said that Begin’s predecessor, Yitzhak Rabin was “not a strong leader.”

The interview, which was shown on the Public Broadcasting Service’s McNeil/Lehrer Report, was in the form of a free-wheeling conversation with the Israeli-born American political cartoonist and writer Ranan Lurie, taped at Sadat’s villa outside Ismailia on Dec. 18, one week before he met with Begin in Egypt.

Sadat said that when he asked Ceausescu for an assessment of Begin with whom the Rumanian leader had had six hours of “left-a-tete” talks during the Israeli’s visit to Rumania earlier this year, Ceausescu replied that Begin “is genuine for peace” and “the man is strong enough to take the decision.”

Sadat noted that he always said he would like to deal with former Israeli Premier Golda Meir because “she has guts.” But, he said that “Rabin, especially in the second disengagement agreement (in 1975), proved that he is not a strong leader.”

Sadat said that King Hussein of Jordan “agrees to my initiative” to seek peace in the Mideast. He said that while Syrian President Hafez Assad is “reasonable” and “my friend,” the ruling Ba’ath Party preaches hatred “and really is looked upon as a vicious party in the area here.” He said Assad is reasonable in the context of his party and “is the best of them all in the party.”

BASIS FOR YOM KIPPUR WAR

The Egyptian leader said he started the Yom Kippur War to prove to Israel “and to the whole world, and to ourselves that we can fight, and because we were really very deeply injured after the defeat of ’67 (the Six-Day War).” He said he had no intention “of throwing Israel into the sea, even if we have reached the Israeli borders.” He said the war was not aimed at killing Israelis but at giving the Egyptians back their confidence. “My people are satisfied now, because they proved themselves,” he said. “They have again the full confidence in themselves after the October War.” Sadat also called Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi a “mental case” who will “never influence anyone in the Arab world.” He said that Dr. George Habash, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), “doesn’t know what he wants. Really. It is only sabotage. In every way. And in every direction. So I don’t attach any importance to him at all.”

Lurie, who showed Sadat some of his cartoons at the beginning of the interview, fought in three of Israel’s wars. His syndicated cartoons appear in Al Ahram, the semi-official Egyptian daily.

HAS ACCOLADES FOR CARTER

Commenting on President Carter, Sadat said he “is a strong President. He is a man of decision, and much more than this, the man is honest.” He also termed Carter a man of “principles” and integrity. “And this is very important really, and he is showing really the true image of America.”

In a separate interview yesterday with ABC-TV interviewer Barbara Walters, Sadat said he hoped for an agreement with Israel within two months, one month less than Begin had predicted earlier.

Meanwhile, in his first public address since the Ismailia summit meeting, Sadat said in his annual birthday message on Egyptian television and radio that Israel no longer challenges Egypt’s international borders, implying that Israel was prepared to return all Egyptian territory occupied in the Six-Day War. “Begin told me the official Israeli government decision is that there were no differences on Egypt’s international borders, although I did not ask for it,” Sadat said.

EXCORIATES HIS CRITICS

{SPAN}###{/SPAN} declared: “The challenge today is no longer a heated military battle in the Sinai but how to rebuild our country.” He also bitterly attacked Arab critics of his peace initiatives, saying they would never be welcomed in Egypt. “This time I will never forgive (my) critics. Whoever attacks Egypt. I will never receive him in Coim” Sadat said.

In a sharp attack against the Palestinian leadership, he asserted: “To my greatest regret, the greatest enemies of the Palestinian cause are those who speak on its behalf.” Sadat again denounced Habash “and others” as “hirelings and murderers” and charged that Habash’s PFLP planned the hijacking of a Lufthansa airliner to Somalia last October.

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