WASHINGTON (Oct. 23)
The questioning by President Anwar Sadat of the draft peace treaty agreed to by the Israeli and Egyptian delegations here Saturday was officially described at the State Department today as a request for “clarifications” and not “modifications” in the text.
George Sherman, official spokesman for the Blair House conferees, said “The Egyptian government has asked its delegation here to get clarifications from other delegations as to certain points in the treaty draft and report those clarifications back to Cairo.”
Apparently seeking to allay any fear that the request from Cairo signaled a possible breakdown in the peace talks, Sherman stated that “in the Egyptian view, the Egyptians consider this a normal procedure in their consideration of the treaty draft.” He added that “the Egyptians state further that this action does not signify rejection of that draft. It means the Egyptian delegation will be discussing certain points further with the other delegations (American and Israeli) so as to report further clarifications back to Cairo.
Sherman said the discussions will continue over the next several days and that the Egyptian request was no surprise to the U.S. Asked if the Israelis were making any similar requests, Sherman noted that the Israeli Cabinet will meet tonight to discuss the treaty draft and that he expects the heads of the Israeli delegation, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, to return here by mid-week to continue the negotiations. “If the Israeli government asks for clarifications that would not be a surprise,” Sherman said.
When pressed as to whether his stress on “clarifications” rather than” modifications” was an accurate description of what the Egyptians wanted, Sherman replied, “The terminology is what the Egyptians told me to state.”
DRAFT NEEDS FURTHER STUDY
Sherman’s explanation appeared to be borne out by reports from Cairo today which quoted President Anwar Sadat’s spokesman, Saad Zaghloul Nassar, as saying that “President Sadat has sent instructions to the Egyptian delegation in Washington saying that the draft needs further study in some of its parts. This study is necessary before the treaty can be ready for signature.”
The Egyptian spokesman would not say which parts need to be clarified. But Egyptian Foreign Ministry sources indicated that one issue was the linkage between the Egyptian-Israeli treaty and progress in resolving the West Bank-Gaza Strip issues. The sources implied that it was the legal terminology, not principles, that needed clarification and made it clear that the draft treaty had not been rejected.
MEETINGS ARE CONTINUING
Sherman pointed out that the three annexes to the draft treaty have not yet been completed and have not been referred to the Egyptian and Israeli governments. He announced, at the same time, that the acting chief of the U.S. delegation, Ambassador Alfred L. Atherton and Egypt’s Acting Foreign Minister, Boutros Ghali, met for four hours at Blair House last night and were continuing their meetings today. The military members of the Israeli and Egyptian delegations met informally this morning at the Madison Hotel where the delegations are quartered.
Sherman said that economic subjects are also being discussed by the Israelis and Egyptians today with the participation of oil experts from both countries. “Work continues on the annexes,” Sherman said. He repeated that “some of the unresolved issues have been referred to the governments for discussion and some (discussions) are being held here.”
Asked if Nov. 19, the first anniversary of Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem, would be the date for the signing of a peace treaty by Israel and Egypt, Sherman repeated what he told the press yesterday, that no time or place has been selected yet for the signing ceremony.
Sherman was asked to comment on reports that some circles in Israel were irked by his announcement yesterday that a draft treaty had been agreed to by the Israeli and Egyptian delegations before consulting with the Israeli government. Sherman replied, “I said nothing that was not said by both sides. In any case, my statement was done with the knowledge of both sides here.”
Asked what the level of consultation was, the spokesman declared, “It is sufficient to say it was done with the knowledge of appropriate officials with whom I deal in the Egyptian and Israeli delegations.”
It was announced, meanwhile, that king khalid of Saudi Arabia, recovering from heart surgery in Cleveland, will lunch with President Carter at the White House Friday. The Israeli-Egyptian treaty negotiations are expected to figure in their discussions.