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Carter Begin-sadat Meeting May Be Necessary to Conciude Peace Treaty

January 19, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Carter, in a televised interview shown last night, said that a direct meeting between Israeli Premier Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat might be necessary before a peace treaty between the countries can be completed. He said the reason was that although 99 percent of the issues have been solved the remaining dispute is political.

The interview with NBC-TV’s John Chancellor was conducted last week before Carter’s remarks in Atlanta Sunday that he would not hesitate to call another summit conference it necessary to reach a peace agreement. In the interview seen last night he said basically the same thing and stressed that he hoped the differences could be ironed out on the foreign ministers level.

“These remaining issues have gotten to be a kind of symbol of who is going to prevail in the public mind as the toughest negotiator and who is going to assuage those local political interests more effectively,” Carter noted. He said he would “consider a head of state meeting” if necessary but “I dread the prospect” of “going through another session like Camp David before.”

Carter stressed that the U.S. has no plan for an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. “We do not have a word or a sentence or a paragraph or a document that we would like to foist upon the Israelis or Egyptians,” he said. He said any settlement that is “mutually” agreeable to both Israel and Egypt would be welcomed by the U.S. whether it was reached by efforts between the two parties alone or with American help. He said the U.S. adds “our services only when it is obvious that the two parties can’t agree without us.”

Carter said there were two reasons a treaty was not completed in the three months immediately after the Camp David summit despite the optimism voiced at the end of Camp David. He said one was that the positions of both sides were now voiced in public by each side making it difficult for them to change their positions. The second, he said, was that both Begin and Sadat had to make concessions to some of their political allies and friends who felt they had gone too far at Camp David.

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