WASHINGTON (Feb. 5)
Presidents Carter and Sadat and their key aides were engaged this weekend in private talks on the Middle East at Camp David in Maryland with no inkling of the results anticipated before Carter and Sadat return to Washington this evening. Reporters at the hamlet of Thurmont, on the outskirts of the Presidential retreat 65 miles from Washington, were unable to obtain any news of the historic gathering since it was pre-arranged that the White House would supply whatever information is to be made available.
With a skillful blend of old-fashioned theatricalism and modern public relations techniques, designed to impress the television world, particularly the American media, Sadat arrived at the White House Friday with outstretched arms and a broad smile to greet “my dear friend,” President Carter and to suggest that the United States be “the arbiter” in the Middle East. Sadat and his party flew to Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington from Morocco, the first stop of Sadat’s eight-nation 13-day tour to win popular support for his view of a Mideast settlement.
From Andrews Air Force Base, the Sadat party flew by helicopter to the White House where Carter met Sadat, also with outstretched arms. While high U.S. officials were talking of “quiet diplomacy” to further Mideast negotiations, selected media were building up Sadat as a man of peace while in some instances Israel and Premier Menachem Begin were being berated for “duplicity” and “intransigence” on the policy of settlements.
Declaring, “we are now at a historic and crucial crossroads,” Sadat, in a prepared statement which he read for the TV cameras, invoked the slogan of the American civil rights movement, “We shall overcome.” This was interpreted as involving the United States in the Arab terms for a settlement.
“Like you, my dear friend, we cherish our land and sacrifice our lives to defend against any encroachment,” Sadat said from his notes. “Like you my dear friend, we believe in the inherent right of self-determination for all peoples in different parts of the globe. We should never allow ideological rigidity or fanaticism to endanger this holy march on the road to peace.”
This appeared to be an attack on Begin’s association of Samaria and Judea with Israel. It was also construed by some as a conflict with the “fanaticism” of some “moderate” Arab leaders for sovereignty over old Jerusalem because of the mosques there.
PEACE IS UP TO ALL LEADERS
Carter, who spoke first at the White House meeting, included Israel and the American people in the search for peace. “It is now up to all of us, President Sadat. Mr. Begin, other interested leaders, and also the people of the United States, to rededicate our efforts to these goals,” he said.
The U.S. party at Camp David included Vice President Walter Mondale; Secretary of State Cyrus Vance; National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski; U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Hermann Eilts; Assistant Secretary of State Alfred Atherton; Brzezinski’s staff specialist on the Middle East, William Quandt; and Carter’s chief political domestic advisor, Hamilton Jordan.
The Egyptian party included Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Kaamel; the Speaker of the Egyptian Assembly, Said Marei; Egypt’s Ambassador Ashraf Ghorbal; and Hassan Kamel, of Sadat’s office. The talks at Camp David, as well as the 90-minute meeting today at the State Department between Vance and Kaamel, were described officially as having gone very well.