INTRODUCTION: Egypt's President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin met in the occupied Sinai Desert on thursday (4 June) for summit talks, as Israeli demonstrators protested nearby against their imminent evacuation from the area.
Background: INTRODUCTION: Egypt's President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin met in the occupied Sinai Desert on thursday (4 June) for summit talks, as Israeli demonstrators protested nearby against their imminent evacuation from the area. As expected, the talks concentrated on tension in the Middle East over the Lebanese missile crisis.
SYNOPSIS: President Sadat arrived in Ophira in the south of the Sinai for a summit which had taken diplomats in Cairo by surprise. They say it reversed a previous Egyptian policy that a summit should not take place until after Israel's general election later in June. It was the first meeting for the two leaders in a year and a half. In that time, the peace initiative has faltered. But Mr. Begin, who suggested the meeting, is in the middle of his election campaign and is anxious to persuade his electorate that the peace process is still under way.
Shortly after the arrival, Mr. Sadat and Mr. Begin flew by helicopter to Na'ama Bay where the meeting was held; over a desert which had been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war.
Although neither leader has confirmed whether Israel's withdrawal from the area was discussed, President Sadat was known to be interested in asking Mr. Begin to advance the date of evacuation from Southern Sinai. Israel already has handed back two thirds of the peninsula and the remainder is to be returned under present agreement, by April 1982. The meeting was held on the terrace of a hastily converted discotheque called the White Elephant, at Sharm-El-Sheikh -- a coastal centre which has become a popular resort with Israelis during the past 14 years.
Hundreds of police and troops have been securing the area in an attempt to keep out settlers who threatened to demonstrate against their evacuation. But the protesters eluded security by camping on the beach overnight, posing as holidaymakers. One was from the settlement of Yamit.
The two leaders, however, had weightier problems, and the surprise came from President Sadat, siding with Israel over the missile issue.
Mr. Begin had earlier informed Mr. Sadat of the latest Syrian military movements within the Arab Deterrent Force in Lebanon. The Egyptian leader added during the news conference that in his view, American attempts to bring about peace should be given time to work. Before he departed, President Sadat also urged Israel to allow more time for a peaceful settlement of the missile crisis. Mr. Begin said he agreed.