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Camp David Meeting Gets Under Way

February 22, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Representatives of Egypt, Israel and the United States held their opening trilateral meeting at snowbound Camp David today and were officially reported as determined to reach early agreement on an Egyptian-Israeli treaty but various circumstances indicated that this would be unattainable short of a summit conference.

Among the circumstances downgrading the possibilities of success were an Egyptian move to dominate the Middle East and North Africa militarily with vast U.S. support and continued refusal by Egypt to agree to a treaty without linkage to Palestinian autonomy which Israel continues to oppose.

Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Egyptian Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil and Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan met this afternoon by themselves after Vance held separate meetings before lunch with Khalil and Dayan. The three breakfasted together with no subordinates present.

According to the first communique on the meeting, issued at the State Department with the approval of the heads of the three ministerial delegations, the Egyptians, the Israelis and the Americans “all view the meeting here as a continuation of efforts they began together last October in the Blair House within the Camp David accords…. All three ministers have reaffirmed their determination to bend their best efforts towards successful completion of the negotiations as soon as possible.”

The statement added that “the atmosphere was warm and informal” when the three delegations mixed shortly after their arrival last evening at the Presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains 60 miles from Washington.”

Vance met Khalil and Dayan when they deplaned in Washington. Some members of the U.S. delegation, which includes special Ambassador Alfred Atherton, Ambassador Hermann Eilts in Cairo and Samuel Lewis in Israel, Assistant Secretary of State Harold Sounders and National Security Council specialist William Quandt, met simultaneously with the Egyptians and Israelis during the evening.


The Camp David sessions got under way as Pentagon sources revealed that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had informed Defense Secretary Harold Brown in their talks last weekend in Cairo that he wants to be the mainstay of the Western democracies in the Middle East as a result of the ouster of U.S. influence in Iran. He previously had indicated his desire to protect North Africa from Soviet influence.

To this end, according to the Pentagon officials, Egypt requires billions of dollars of modern weaponry, including up to 300 F-16 warplanes, hundreds of tanks, short range tactical missiles and other artillery, and thousands of armed personnel carriers and other vehicles.

A Pentagon official, who requested anonymity, said that Sadat had told Brown that Egypt was prepared to take the security position in the Middle East and Africa if it became better equipped with modern arms.

Brown reportedly told Sadat the U.S. would consider his weapons requests seriously but made “no commitment to the broad list that was submitted.” Brown was said to have told Sadat that Egypt was unlikely to receive large amounts of American weapons before an Egyptian-Israeli treaty was concluded. Egypt’s armed forces are equipped largely with Soviet weapons.

The U.S. is committed to provide Egypt with 50 F-5 jet fighters under the package deal the Administration succeeded in putting across last spring for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Meanwhile, the White House disclosed this afternoon that the United States is sending a military mission to Egypt to survey “in detail” Egypt’s requirements for improvements in her armament. Presidential News Secretary Jody Powell said it is “premature” to say “exactly what type and level” of equipment Egypt may receive and would not comment on “figures or rationale” when he was asked about Egypt’s request to the U.S. for vastly increased armament. Powell said that “the matter of increased U.S. assistance and support was received almost at every stop” in Brown’s 11-day visit to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

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