London (Aug. 3)
President Anwar Sadat of Egypt had three hours of talks today with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and afterwards described them as “marvelous.” The Egyptian leader is in London for two days en route to Washington for his first meeting with President Reagan. Sadat’s scheduled six-day visit to the United States will include meetings with senior officials in the Reagan Administration. He is also due to meet with Jewish leaders in New York City.
This morning he had a private 40-minute meeting with Mrs. Thatcher. They were then joined for an hour by Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington who is now chairman of the European Economic Community (EEC) Council of Ministers which has sponsored its own initiative for peace in the Middle East, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali. Talks then continued over lunch. British officials said the discussions had been held in “a very friendly atmosphere.”
Mrs. Thatcher said they had covered all aspects of the Middle East. The Lebanese cease-fire had been regarded by both sides as a possible basis for progress in further aspects of the Mideast problem on which all parties should build. The European initiative had been touched on “but not at length,” and trade between the two countries had been touched on briefly, officials said.
Other reports said that Sadat urged the British not to back down on the European initiative even though it had so far made little progress. He added that it should be regarded as complementary to the American-initiated peace process and not a substitute for it. Lord Carrington is understood to have said that the EEC would keep up its diplomatic efforts.
Among the trade matters of interest to both sides are further sales of British arms to Egypt. The latter apparently wants to equip its aging Soviet tanks with British-made guns.
Further evidence of Britain’s commitment to the EEC initiative is expected here next month when EEC Foreign Ministers gather for informal talks outside London.
In addition to encouraging further progress on negotiations over the Palestinian autonomy issue, the European countries are considering what they can do to bolster the authority of the official Lebanese government, including providing it with arms. They will also hear proposals for enlarging the area policed by United Nations units in south Lebanon.