All Systems Go for Summit Conference
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All Systems Go for Summit Conference

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President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Premier Menachem Begin of Israel arrived two hours apart at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington this afternoon enroute to their historic summit conference with President Carter at Camp David. Sadat, who landed shortly before 2 p.m., pointedly ignored the Israeli leader in both his prepared and impromptu remarks, praised Carter for his “brave and gallant act of statesmanship” in calling the summit meeting and lauded America’s full partnership in the peace process.

Begin, who left his New York hotel at 2 p.m., arrived at the air base at about 3:45. Both he and Sadat were greeted there by Vice President Walter Mondale and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance before boarding helicopters for the 35-minute flight to Camp David.

Begin made no statement when he left New York. He and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman met this morning with a group of American Jewish leaders at the home of the Israeli Consul General in New York, Yosef Kedar.

The participants were Theodore Mann, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations; Max Fisher, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency; Frank Lautenberg, president of the United Jewish Appeal; Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the World Zionist Organization–American Section; and Yehuda Hellman, executive secretary of the Presidents Conference.

Officials of Begin’s party said the one hour meeting was mainly social and was not a briefing in the usual manner between Israeli officials and Jewish leaders. Later, Mann, Schindler and Hellman met privately with Begin in his suite at the Regency hotel for 20 minutes. The participants declined to comment on what was discussed. (See P. 3 for Begin’s arrival at Andrews Air Force Base.)


Sadat was given full military honors when he landed at Andrews Air Force Base on a flight from Paris. In a clear association of himself with Carter and in an indirect reference to the “legitimate rights” of the Palestinian people, Sadat declared: “Together we shall build a viable structure for peace on the solid foundations of law and legitimacy.” He added a phrase popular in the United States, “Together we shall overcome.”

Mondale told Sadat upon his arrival, “The American people and President Carter welcome you again with a warm heart.” Also on hand to greet Sadat before he boarded a helicopter for Camp David were the Ambassadors of many Arab and African countries. The Syrian Ambassador was conspicuous by his absence and there was no indication that the Chinese Peoples Republic sent a representative. The Soviet Union reportedly was represented by an official of less than ambassadorial rank.

Earlier, reading from a prepared statement, the Egyptian leader said the Middle East situation is at a “crucial crossroads.” He said “The challenge is tremendous but we have no choice but to accept it.” In what appeared to be an oblique thrust at Begin’s position, Sadat added, “We cannot fail the hopes of the nations all over the world. No one has the right to block the road to peace. This is no time for maneuvers and worn-out ideas. It is time for magnanimity and reason.”

He said he is “gratified” by the “keen interest” shown by the U.S. in a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace,” observing that “the U.S. is most qualified to be a full partner in the peace process.”

When he left Paris today, Sadat told reporters that he would seek a “down-to-earth encounter” with Begin at Camp David. He said his trip to Jerusalem last November “had a spiritual basis” and “in Camp David we will try to put everything in its place and come down to earth.”

As the summit conference is about to open, the impression gained is that Sadat, in his own statements and actions and in comments by his aides, appears to have deliberately created an atmosphere of crisis about the meeting in an apparent attempt to good Carter into imposing American ideas–if not actually Egyptian–on Begin. In contrast, Begin is showing moderation and compromise with a demonstration of amiability. (See Behind the Headlines, P. 4.)


In discussion here and abroad, a pivotal point is what Carter will do. He has moved somewhat closer to Sadat in language, at least in recent days, declaring he will be a “full partner” at the summit, as the Egyptian President has long demanded, and without the usual qualifying phrases of no pressure. But whether that means he will provoke Begin into refusing any compromise remains to be determined.

Carter has put himself close to former Secretary of State William Rogers’ position for full withdrawal by Israel except for “minor adjustments.” The U.S. has never put itself on record on Jerusalem’s future sovereignty but that issue may emerge at this summit conference.

Little or nothing is being said about two other key elements. One is Sadat’s threat in July of a military build-up that seemingly prompted Carter’s invitations for the summit, and the continuing Syrian onslaught against the Christian militia in Syria’s attempts to control Lebanon.

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