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1978: Sadat in US for Mid East talks

Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat has arrived in Washington DC to discuss the Middle East peace process with US President Jimmy Carter.

Senior Egyptian officials say their president has gone to America to persuade its leadership to exert more pressure on Israel to be flexible in the search for agreement in the war-torn region.


"The idea of peace is fragile and vulnerable"

President Sadat

They deny claims President Sadat is primarily concerned with brokering an arms deal to enable Egypt to buy American jets for its airforce.

President Carter invited President Sadat to the US on 18 January, the day the Egyptian premier abruptly recalled his delegation from political negotiations with Israel in Jerusalem.

President Sadat - who took the historic step of visiting Jerusalem last November - accepted the invitation ten days later and President Carter made public the purpose of the talks.

His White House statement said they were, "to hold an extensive review of the progress that has been made in the Arab-Israeli negotiations and of how they might proceed effectively towards the common objective of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East."

Egypt-Israeli talks stalled over Egypt's principle demands for Israeli withdrawal from territories seized by force since 1967 and recognition of the rights of Palestinians to their own state.

Mr Carter hopes his meetings with Mr Sadat - scheduled to take place in the seclusion of Camp David, Maryland - will revive the momentum towards achieving a settlement in the Middle East.

In a press conference after his arrival in Washington Mr Sadat said: "The great idea of peace is unfortunately fragile and vulnerable."

He is expected to be in the US for four days, most of the time in private consultation with the president.

After the US, President Sadat is due to visit ministers in the UK, West Germany, Austria, Romania, France and Italy before returning to Egypt on 13 February.

In Context
President Sadat's visit was hailed a success as he impressed the American President and Congress with his diplomatic skills.

His visit represented a significant shift in Egyptian foreign policy, which had courted favour from the Soviet Union for the previous 20 years.

Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin met President Carter in Washington shortly after President Sadat left.

Mr Begin and Mr Sadat signed the Camp David Peace Accords in September 1978.

That year they were both jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

When the Egypt-Israeli peace treaty was signed in March 1979 Egypt was condemned by the other Arab nations and excluded from the Arab League.

President Sadat was assassinated by Islamic militants in October 1981.


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