JERUSALEM (Jan. 7)
Soviet action in Afghanistan will be on the agenda of Premier Menachem Begin’s summit meeting with President Anwar Sadat in Aswan beginning tomorrow, it was disclosed here today. They will also discuss the normalization of Israeli- Egyptian relations and the autonomy negotiations. Begin said last Friday that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is more serious than its invasion of Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1968 because Afghanistan, unlike Czechoslovakia, is not a member of the Soviet bloc.
Preparations for the Aswan summit are completed. The Cabinet today gave its formal approval of Begin’s visit to Egypt and announced that Deputy Premier Yigoel Yadin would act as Premier in his absence. Begin is to be greeted at Aswan airport by Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil in and official State ceremony.
He and Sadat will have at least two meeting and will hold a joint press conference after their three day summit Begin will be accompanied by his senior aides, headed by Eliahu Ben-Elissar, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office who is Israel’s unofficial Ambassador designate to Cairo.
EGYPT NAMES ENVOY TO ISRAEL
Israel and Egypt are scheduled to exchange Ambassadors on February 26, one month after the normalization of relations is officially established. Israel has already received a formal request from Egypt to approve its selection of Sood Mortada as the first Egyptian Ambassador to Israel.
While no objections have been raised, circles here expressed surprise at Mortada’s nomination inasmuch as the 56-year-old career diplomat has not been involved in the Israeli-Egyptian peace process and his name never appeared among the likely candidates for the past. Egypt’s decision not to appoint a more senior diplomat, sources here said, is further evidence of the trend in Cairo to keep the normalization with Israel in a low key.
Mortada’s last past was Ambassador to Morocco where he served for about a year. He was there when the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was signed last March 26. A month later, Morocco joined 16 other Arab League countries in severing diplomatic relations with Egypt to protest the treaty.
Meanwhile, Egypt today refused to allow on El Al plane chartered by the foreign press corps to land at Aswan airport because no official air agreement has been signed yet between Egypt and Israel. The Foreign Press Association approached the government and it was decided to put an Israel Air Force Boeing or Hercules transport at the disposal of the journalists. About 500 Israeli, Egyptian and foreign journalists are expected to cover the Aswan meeting.