Soviet Afghan incursion sets tone for Sadat-Begin summit
| Aswan, Egypt
The impact on the Middle East of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan looms as the dominant theme of the Egyp- tian-Israel summit conference here. Egypt's President Anwar Sadat and Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who met here Jan. 7, are expected to exchange views on the long-range strategical consequences of the Soviet move. They also are likely to explore the possibility of a common approach, if not joint tactics.
Israeli concern about being bypassed by American military planning in favor of such moderate Arab and Islamic states as Egypt, SoMalia, and Oman were dramatized by a Hebrew TV report that an Egyptian base already is being used by US forces.
This was denied by Egypt's Defense Minister, Hassan Kamel Ali. He said Egypt stands by its offer to let the United States gain access to "facilities" here only if it is responding to a request for aid from an Arab country.
No negotiations between American and Egyptian officials on this subject have taken place so far, Mr. ali said.
If it is assumed that the Israeli report was an inspired leak from Defense Ministry or military quarters, as the state television indicated, the purpose may have been to warn the US and Egypt not to leave Israel out of any prospective tactical arrangements.
Highly placed Israelis see an incipient threat to the whole Camp David peace structure if the US tends to favor Egypt in its Middle Eastern relations and to freeze, if not downgrade, traditional links with Israel.
For their part, the Egyptians are demonstrating a bold confidence in the viability of the peace-with-Israel policy despite massive disapproval on the part of all the other Arab states, except (for the time being) Sudan, Somalia, and Oman.
Vice-President Husni Mubarak has been sent on a major political mission to china, where substantial offers of spare parts for Soviet- made weaponry were received as well as unanimity in condemning the Soviet thrust into Afghanistan.
The Chinese are regarded here and in Israel as being tacitly in favor of the Egyptian rapprochement with Israel, if only because it serves as an obstacle to Soviet influence in this part of the Middle East.
Messrs. Sadat and Begin were scheduled to hold two meetings, the first before a dinner tendered by the Egyptian leader, and the second, on Jan. 8, after the Israeli guest had toured the ancient monuments at Abu- Simbel.
The two men are due to conduct a news conference after their second session.