Progress in Normalization Talks

Israeli officials reported good progress today in negotiations between Israeli and Egyptian specialists to speed up and expand the normalization process between the two countries. The talks opened here yesterday with the establishment of joint committees among the 100 participants, each dealing with a specific aspect of normalization.

According to Zvi Kedar, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Egyptian division, agreement already has been reached on the establishment of direct telephone and telex links between Israel and Egypt and overland postal deliveries on a daily basis. Flights between the two countries will be increased from four to five a week. It was agreed to continue direct flights from Israel to Sharm el-Sheikh and to the Santa Catherina Monastery after Israel completes its withdrawal from Sinai next April, Kedar reported. Both are tourist attractions.

He said the Egyptians have also agreed that the Etzion air base could be used as an international airport to serve civilian traffic to and from Eilat after Israel evacuates. Israeli officials said, however, that many details have yet to be worked out regarding air and land routes, visas and other procedures required for crossing the border.

EGYPTIAN MINISTER POSTPONES VISIT

The progress made in the normalization negotiations was shadowed somewhat when it was learned today that Egyptian Agriculture Minister, Dr. Mahmoud Daoud, unexpectedly postponed his visit to Israel which was to have begun tonight. He was scheduled to attend the Agritech agricultural exhibit and to meet with officials of Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture.

No explanations were available of the sudden change in plans but speculation was raised that Egypt was expressing its annoyance over the recent remarks by Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Rafael Eitan expressing doubt about the stability of President Anwar Sadat’s regime. A spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry said Daoud was forced to postpone his visit because of pressing business but would not elaborate. He said, however, that the postponement was only for one week.

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