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Egypt’s Optimism Causes Concern

The strong optimism of Egyptian leaders about prospects for a full agreement soon with Israel — expressed Sunday by President Anwar Sadat on national TV and reiterated here today by Egyptian Vice President Hosni Mubarak after meeting with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance –was reported today to be evoking concerns among U.S. diplomats that the optimism might damage U.S. relations with Saudj Arabia, Jordan and Syria.

In a development reminiscent of reaction to Sadat’s startling announcement of two years ago that he would go to Jerusalem in a quest for peace, U.S. diplomats in the Middle East were reported to be worried that Sadat’s “go-it-alone” approach in the Arab world would affect U.S. interest in Keeping clear channels open to other Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia. U.S. ambassadors in the region met with U.S. special Ambassador Robert Strauss in Cairo after he talked to Sadat to help negotiate an Israeli-Egyptian agreement on Palestinian autonomy on the West Bank and Gaza.

Apparently it was from these U.S. diplomats that reporters learned that Sadat’s “brazen tactics” — as one report described them — would, in their view, hurt U.S. interests. In 1977, when Sadat shattered U.S. initiatives by going to Jerusalem, U.S. diplomats threw cold water on that action because of their feeling it would disrupt the Arab world.

According to reports from Cairo, “Western diplomats” are now saying that U.S. failure to achieve an accommodation in the United Nations Security Council on the Palestinian issue has deeply dismayed Saudi leaders and created the possibility of a Saudi oil production cutback in October. The Saudis, it is widely understood, expected when they raised production in early July by one million barrels a day for three months, that the U.S. would reciprocate with actions favorable to “Palestinian rights.”

In connection with strategy meetings of U.S. envoys to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Israel, held at the residence of Alfred Atherton, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, and with Strauss at the U.S. Chancery in Cairo, reports have emerged that the U.S. “failure” to achieve a breakthrough in the Security Council and Ambassador Andrew Young’s resignation had so disturbed Saudi Crown Prince Fahd that he may cut back oil output to below what it was in June when gasoline shortages developed in the West.

Mubarak, in expressing optimism, said Jordan and Saudi Arabia would be involved in the autonomy negotiations by the end of this year. “When they (Egypt and Israel) reach the modalities for full autonomy. I think there will not be any excuse for them not to join.”

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