Peace Treaty Talks Focus on Bargaining over Language

Bargaining over language in the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty with activity in Cairo to gain a propaganda edge appeared to be taking place today as treaty discussions continued at Blair House among American, Egyptian and Israeli delegations.

Egypt’s desired alterations of the agreement reached with Israel here late Saturday were given yesterday to the United States, it was disclosed today, and they will be discussed at a meeting at Blair House between the chief American negotiator, Ambassador Alfred Atherton, and Egyptian Acting Foreign Minister Boutros Ghali.

In making this known, the conference’s lone official spokesman, George Sherman of the State Department, changed his characterization of Egypt’s alteration from “clarifications” in the agreement to “technical changes.” He emphasized repeatedly that this characterization came from Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Khalil. Yesterday he quoted the Egyptians in Washington on “clarifications.”

Egypt’s semi-official newspaper A1 Ahram first referred to them as “amendments” that are “basic” to the treaty. But later softened the language to “technicalities.” Today, A1 Ahram said that President Anwar Sadat has asked the Egyptian delegation in Washington to introduce “certain amendments” to the proposed treaty that would stress the close linkage between the proposed Egyptian-Israeli treaty and a comprehensive Middle East settlement.

MAKING ISRAEL THE HEAVY

Meanwhile, the Israeli Cabinet is reported as wanting “amendments” to the agreement. The result in the word contest is that an appearance is developing that the Israeli government is “hard line” and looking less favorably on a tentative agreement than Egypt which is merely seeking slight word changes.

In another development that seemed to put Israel in a “hard line” public position, President Carter sent a message to Premier Menachem Begin urging endorsement of the agreement. No report appeared on whether he had also asked Sadat to endorse it.

Sherman would not say whether Egypt’s alterations would affect the nine articles in the agreement or its preamble which reportedly provides linkage between the Egyptian-Israeli treaty and the West Bank problems. Sadat is said to want language to improve his standing with other Arab governments.

Sherman also refused to predict when the treaty might be completed, when he was asked if it would take another week. Neither would he comment on whether the treaty signing would take place in the Middle East “in a spectacular ceremony” with Carter visiting both Israel and Egypt as some sources are saying.

NEXT STORY