Sudan's President Jaafar Nimeiry has let it be known there are limits to his friendship with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. At the same time, however, Mr. Sadat is insisting the Sudanese President is a valuable neighbor who might become an irreplacable ally.
The consensus among Mr. Sadat's aides is appreciation for Mr. Nimeiry's serious offer to mediate between an estranged Egypt and the bloc of moderate Arab states suspicious of Egypt's attempt to establish a Middle East peace.
Mr. Nimeiry, who has restored full diplomatic relations with Egypt, is the first Arab ruler to break the ice that accumulated between Egypt and other Arab states when Sadat embarked on a solo peace mission in 1977. As a result, Sadat aides think he is "exceptionally suited" to play the role of mediator. Amid the euphoria accompnying their sudden rapprochement last March, Mr. Nimeiry appeared to adopt a defiant attitude toward the Arab boycott of Egypt.
He went so far as saying his government would consider a US request to use Sudanese military installations. His avoidance of mentioning Egypt's peace accords with Israel was interpreted here as a form of implicit support for them.
But weeks later, when Mr. Sadat Khartoum, the Sudanese head of state seemed cooler. He omitted any public comment on the Camp David peace accords, which Mr. Sadat regards as his great achievement. He also didn't refer to military facilities for the US. What he did mention, only in passing, was the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty that provides for the return of the Israeli-occupied Sinai Peninsula.
This helped confirm Egyptian fears that Mr. Nimeiry had not abandoned hopes of reconciling promises of aid from Arab oil-producing states with an Egyptian military commitment to protect his regime from Libyan troops stationed in nearby Chad and from rebellious leftist s within Sudan.