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U.S. Pro-egyptian Position Clearly Visible As Carter-begin Talks Begin

March 2, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Obvious tension between the Carter Administration and the Israeli government appeared unabated today as Premier Menachem Begin flew to Washington to meet with President Carter at the White House in a session hurriedly arranged by the President Tuesday over the failing Camp David accords.

Only a few hours before the first Carter-Begin meeting since the Camp David agreements were signed last September the White House sought to portray the Carter Administration as an honest intermediary between Israel and Egypt with peace between them as its goal. But reports persisted that the U.S. had warned Israel last week to agree to a pact with Egypt within 10 days or face serious reprisals.

Meanwhile, the Administration’s pro-Egyptian position continued to be clearly visible. For the first time, too, the Administration point out that Egypt’s “security” was involved along with Israel’s and the national interests of the U.S. in the attainment of an Israeli-Egyptian agreement as part of a “comprehensive peace.”

This was stated twice by Presidential Press Secretary Jody Powell at noon today in briefing reporters on the Begin-Carter meeting. Earlier today, National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinskiy, in a television interview, said the Administration’s goal is a treaty between Egypt and Israel that will include means for a wider agreement in the Middle East.

No time will be last in opening the meeting between the two leaders tonight, some two hours after Begin arrives at Andrews Air Force Base at about 4:20 p.m. on his “official visit.” Secretary of State Cyrus Vance will welcome him and escort him to Blair House from where Begin will go to the White House to meet with the President shortly afterwards.

No dinner is planned at this meeting, Powell said. He could not say how long the meeting would last or who would attend besides the principals. Begin and Carter will first meet without their aides. Powell said it was “premature” to say whether President Anwar Sadat of Egypt would come here next week to join Carter and Begin. Further Carter-Begin meetings will be held Friday. Powell had no information on their schedule beyond that.

Regional and bilateral matter’s and Israeli-Egyptian peace negotiations will be on the agenda. “Obviously,” Powell said, “the security of Israel and the security of the national interests of the United States and, for the record, also of Egypt, do have a relationship for the security of the region.” He repeated virtually the same sentence shortly afterwards when asked if Begin’s criticism of Egypt’s new terms for a treaty “go too for in jeopardizing regional security.”


Although the President commented three times on Tuesday on the Egyptian-Israeli situation and officials at the White House and State Department leaked information to selected reporters, Powell insisted today, “We’re going to do our best to avoid any public statements or actions that would tend to make this process — which everybody recognizes as difficult — more difficult.”

He emphasized “out concern” is for the “consequences” should the Camp David frameworks fail. He said the U.S. would “explore every opportunity” in the Begin-Carter meetings and “the subsequent discussions” to reach “an early conclusion” between Egypt and Israel “as a first step toward a comprehensive settlement.”

Representatives of Washington’s Jewish community prepared to welcome Begin at Andrews Air Force Base this afternoon and outside Blair House on Sunday in a demonstration of support. The Menorah group, mainly students, is planning to demonstrate against Carter’s Middle East policy outside the White House. Begin, who intends to remain in the United States for a week after concluding his talks with Carter, will meet with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York next week, it was announced by Yehuda Hellman, executive director of the Conference.

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