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Egyptian Chief, Foreign Minister Seek Permanent Peace, Abram Says

February 2, 1988
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The visiting Egyptian president and foreign minister apparently made a good impression last week on a delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Conference chairman Morris Abram said on Monday that the Jewish leaders found in meetings that the Egyptian officials were sincerely interested in peace in the Middle East and in maintaining Egypt’s relationship with Israel.

The delegation — including Thomas Dine, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee; Seymour Reich, president of B’nai B’rith International; and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive director of the conference, which coordinates Arab-Israeli positions of 40 Jewish organizations — met privately with Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid on Friday at the Willard Hotel in Washington.

Abram said he “had the feeling from Meguid’s mode, manner and mien that he was desirous of peace — the establishment of a permanent peace between all of the parties.”

The chairman, who met briefly with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a state luncheon given in his honor by Secretary of State George Shultz, said “that Mubarak and Meguid are men who want peace.”

At the Meguid meeting, which Abram described as “helpful,” the American Jewish leader said he stressed “the importance that Egypt keep its covenant with Israel.”

The two nations signed a peace treaty in 1979, the only one between Israel and an Arab state.


In return, said Abram, “I got from Meguid the fact that Egypt was very much hopeful to extend the peace” and that it wanted Jordan’s King Hussein to be included in the peace process.

Abram described the meeting as “a cordial relationship between quite civilized people. It may be that we have vast gulfs and differences between us, but on a human level I have great respect for his intelligence.”

The conference chairman said he pointed out to Meguid “the need for total normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt, that Egypt was a cornerstone in the peace process.”

Meguid, said Abram, spoke of the unrest in the Israeli-administered territories as a problem. The foreign minister raised what he called “an unfortunate incident” on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem some three weeks ago, in which Israeli soldiers used tear gas to control a crowd of Moslem demonstrators.

Meguid offered no challenge, Abram said, to his assertion that the Camp David accords are “a building block for peace, the original cornerstone in the peace process.”

During a public television interview last week, Mubarak more than once rejected the use of the term “Camp David accords” as a “psychological problem” for the other Arab states.

Abram said Meguid invited him to visit Egypt, which he is very seriously considering “next time I am in the Middle East.”

Abram will travel to the Middle East later this month for the conference’s annual meeting in Jerusalem.

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