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U.S. Official Circles Skeptical About Sadat’s Statement That He Has ‘mandate’ to Speak for Arabs

May 21, 1975
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s declaration that he has a “mandate” to speak for the Arab world when he meets with President Ford in Salzburg was received with considerable skepticism in U.S. official circles.

Noting that Sadat has long been seeking leadership of the Arab states, one well placed source said, “We don’t know if he can pull that out of a hat.” Another official said Sadat may be speaking of something more limited than a mandate and observed that “everything is hypothetical” until the Ford-Sadat session. Sadat has been conferring with leaders of Israel’s neighbors the past week and also with the PLO’s Yasir Arafat.

In view of Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s presence in Geneva engaged in talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, official U.S. comment is restricted as usual in the Secretary’s absence from Washington. However, one source said privately that the really sticky point in the Sadat demands is that of having Washington publicly state whether its support of Israel includes the support of Israel retaining all territory taken in the Six-Day War.

The Egyptian leader’s desire for the PLO to be present in Geneva was described as secondary Sadat also is seeking U.S. financial support to pay off Egypt’s debt to the Soviet Union for arms. This is seen as merely a bargaining point with little substance in reality.


Some easing away was indicated in U.S. circles from the Kissinger statement last week that the U.S. would disclose its views on a Middle East settlement after Ford sees Sadat and Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin.

One official observed that the Kissinger statement was less definite than a commitment to provide a precise formula. Kissinger has steadfastly refused to state a U.S. position but it is generally believed to be along the lines of the formula set forth by former Secretary of State William P. Rogers that advocated Israel’s return to its pre-1967 borders with some “insubstantial” changes.

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