WASHINGTON (Jan. 29)
In another spectacular move with powerful psychological implications in the Arab-Israeli political drama, the White House announced yesterday that President Carter has invited President Anwar Sadat of Egypt to meet with him here next weekend for an “extensive review” of the Middle East settlement process.
The Egyptian leader and Mrs. Sadat will arrive here Feb. 3 and the meetings will take place Feb. 4 and 5 at Carter’s retreat at Camp David in Maryland. The White House said Sadat may remain “another day or two” in the United States after the meetings.
With U.S. officials having been urging “quiet diplomacy” on the Egyptian-Israeli negotiations and to keep the talks out of the media limelight with its attendant publicity, the question was raised at the White House how the Sadat-Carter session is consistent with the U.S. view on how the negotiations should be conducted.
SEES NO INCONSISTENCY
Presidential news secretary Jody Powell said he saw “no inconsistency.” He noted “that is why” the meetings will be held at Camp David, which is in a secluded area, and that it is a “careful methodical approach” that is being taken. However, it is fully expected among reporters here that the world media will be converging on that mountain retreat and the focus of attention will be on the Egyptian version of what the settlement elements should be.
Powell said that the meeting is part of the “continuing process of negotiations.” He pointed out that Premier Menachem Begin of Israel was here in December and is expected to be in Washington again in April in relation to a visit to the United States while Israel celebrates its 30th anniversary.
While Carter and Sadat had met in Aswan earlier this month, that meeting was necessarily brief, Powell observed. Carter, Powell added, felt it was desirable to follow up the Aswan meeting with more extensive talks. Last Monday, Carter, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski decided that it would be “useful” for the two Presidents to confer in Washington. Sadat had been saying before Vance returned from his Middle East trip that he might visit the U.S. to explain his case to the Americans.
In an attempt to offset the obvious advantages that would accrue to the Arab political position, the Carter Administration has put out word to selective reporters that Carter will ask Sadat to avoid sudden decisions like cancelling the political talks and be patient in the intricate political process. Sadat’s visit to the U.S. is part of his global campaign to press his peace initiative. In addition to his visit here, the Egyptian leader will also hold summit meetings in Britain, France, West Germany, Austria and Morocco on his way back from the U.S.