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U.S. Says, on Basis of Carter-sadat Talks, Autonomy Talks Will Resume Soon

The Carter Administration said today that, on the basis of yesterday’s telephone conversation between President Carter and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, the Egyptian-Israeli-American talks on autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be resumed at an “early date.”

The talks were summarily suspended by Sadat a week ago. In a major speech to the Egyptian Parliament in Cairo today, Sadat said he decided to resume the talks after speaking with Carter and that he would set a date after meeting with his senior advisors tomorrow.

Reacting to Sadat’s announcement, the State Department said today, “We are of course pleased at President Sadat’s indication that the next negotiating sessions are to take place at an early date.” Department spokesman Thomas Reston said he would have no other comment since the Department does not yet have the full text of Sadat’s speech.

“I understand President Carter told President Sadat to make a quick decision to resume the peace negotiations with Israel and that President Sadat assured our President–President Carter–that he would do so,” Reston said. Asked about a Cairo report that a three-way summit between Sadat, Carter and Premier Menachem Begin of Israel would take place of the end of May, Reston replied, “There’s nothing to it.”

In his four-hour speech to the Egyptian People’s Assembly (Parliament) today, Sadat announced that he would assume the office of Prime Minister in a new Egyptian government that would draft a series of internal reforms. Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil, who had been Egypt’s chief delegate to the autonomy talks, and the entire Cabinet submitted their resignations yesterday to allow Sadat to reorganize his government.

Sadat said he decided to resume the autonomy talks after his telephone conversation with Carter yesterday. But he said he was convinced that the May 26 target date, set by the Camp David accords for completion of the negotiations, could not be met.

Sadat also announced that he was abolishing martial law in Egypt. He attacked Israel’s settlement policy on the West Bank and insisted that East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank. After announcing that he would set a date tomorrow for resuming the autonomy talks, Sadat remarked that Begin “will be only too happy if Egypt decides to call off the talks. I will not give him that chance.”

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