Washington (Oct. 7)
Secretary of State Alexander Haig emphasized in a nationally televised press conference today the importance of continuing the Camp David peace process and pledged that the U.S would not wave from its role in that process and in its support of Egypt in the aftermath of the assassination of President Anwar Sadat yesterday.
Haig also declared that the slaying of Sadat reinforced the “urgency and desirability” for Congress to approve the Reagan Administration’s proposal to sell AWACS reconnaissance aircraft and other advanced military equipment to Saudi Arabia.
In an apparent allusion to arguments by opponents of the sale that the Saudi regime is unstable and could be overthrown in the manner of Shah of Iran or the violent removal of Sadat, Haig insisted that it would be “a tragic distortion” to suggest that Sadat’s assassination was an example of the kind of events which occur in the Middle East.
“I don’t have to tell you that President Sadat was on the radical hit list ever since the days of Camp David, and perhaps even before,” Haig said. “We must take from this terrible event a fresh determination to complete his work, including the pursuit of peace in the Middle East guided by the Camp David accords.”
In his opening statement, Haig said Sadat’s assassination does not appear to be an attempt to seize power in Egypt. The shooting was an assassination, not a coup, he stressed, and it was carried out by “a group of fundamentalist religious fanatics” based in certain military units. Nevertheless, Haig strongly warned outside powers against any attempt to exploit the current situation in Egypt.
Haig will be a member of the American delegation attending Sadat’s funeral in Cairo Saturday. He said he may stay in the Middle East after the funeral to consult with other governments about the peace process and the political situation in the region.