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Carter Favorably Disposed to Sadat’s Aspiration to Serve As Guardian of Western Interests in North a

February 23, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Carter reacted favorably today to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s expressed aspiration to serve as the guardian of Western interests in North Africa and the Middle East. Although he said he was not immediately endorsing those ambitions, he observed that Egypt” can be a legitimate stabilizing force. “Carter made his remarks in response to questions during a surprise appearance before the annual National Foreign Policy Conference for editors and broadcasters at the State Department.

They followed Sadat’s assertions to Defense Secretary Harold Brown in Cairo last Saturday that he needed American military equipment in vast quantities to fill the role of the area’s keeper of the peace.

The President pointed out that Egypt has five divisions in Sinai, east of the Suez Canal which, if withdrawn as the result of a settlement with Israel, “would mean these divisions would be available” to protect Arab countries. He said that “any nation that would threaten to attack another Middle Eastern nation would face the threat that these (Egyptian) forces would be used to protect the peace.”

“Egypt is very powerful in the Arab world. They can be a legitimate stabilizing force,” Carter said. “The potential is there for Egypt to help to protect other relatively defenseless Arab countries and preserve the peace in the Middle East.”

However, the President said he would not at least immediately, endorse Sadat’s request for the vast arms program he outlined to Brown or Sadat’s vision as a “policeman” in the area within Egypt’s sphere of influence. “I can’t comment, of course, on any nation being a policeman. That would be a very serious mistake, “Carter said.

The President said that the U.S. received many requests for economic and military assistance “in excess of what our nation can provide.” He noted that Israel and Egypt are the two largest recipients of American assistance and in that respect Sadat’s requests would not be “unique.”


Carter praised Sadat for demonstrating in a very dramatic way his peaceful intentions toward Israel. In this connection, he noted the Egyptian President’s trip to Jerusalem in November, 1977 and his participation in the Camp David summit conference last September as proof of his good intentions.

Asked if the U.S. was sufficiently pressing Jordan and Saudi Arabia to support the Comp David formulas, Carter said “We have approached the limits of legitimate influence and pressure — probably — on countries in that region in support of Camp David. “He referred to Brown’s visits to Saudi Arabia and Jordan to seek support for the Camp David negotiations. He observed that the Camp David formulas “are a very firm and well advised foundation” for the peace process in the Middle East.

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