175. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Egypt1

31594. For the Ambassador from the Secretary. Subject: (S) Message From President Carter to President Sadat on Resuming Middle East Negotiations.

1. (S-entire text).

2. Please deliver following message from President Carter to President Sadat at the earliest opportunity.2

3. Begin text:

Dear Mr. President:

I have been giving much attention to how [we] can move forward in the peace negotiations and want to share my thoughts with you. In my judgment, the more time that passes, the less favorable will be the prospects for success. I believe we should now make a major, determined effort to complete the task we started with such high hopes at Camp David in September.

As you have clearly perceived, forces hostile to peace in the Middle East are active in your area. Developments in Iran have dramatized the need for a strong common front to achieve peace and security in the region. Secretary Brown will soon be in Cairo3 to discuss with you, among other things, the strategic situation we face together in this period of challenge to stability and moderation. I am sure you will agree that the achievement of peace between Egypt and Israel would eliminate one important source of uncertainty and insecurity, and would in the long run have a stabilizing effect in the area as a whole.

I am convinced that Prime Minister Begin still wants to complete the treaty and move on to the next stage of negotiations. I know that you also want to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Despite the difficulties which have prevented completion of the negotiations so far, I believe that we can achieve the objectives we set [Page 603]for ourselves at Camp David. It is clear to me, after studying Secretary Vance’s report4 of the useful talks between Prime Minister Khalil and Foreign Minister Dayan in Brussels and Ambassador Atherton’s report5 of his latest visit to Egypt and Israel, that all of the remaining issues are closely interrelated and need to be dealt with and resolved together. It is also clear that we must address ourselves to this task as a matter of some urgency, before time begins to work against us and in order to free our energies to deal with our common strategic concerns in your region. The question is how best to proceed.

As you know, Mr. President, I recently said that I would, if necessary, be prepared to meet again with you and Prime Minister Begin. I do not believe, however, that we have sufficiently tested whether such a meeting is necessary or would be fruitful, and we both recognize the risks inherent in a summit meeting that failed to result in final agreement.

I want to suggest for your consideration, therefore, that the negotiations be resumed at the Ministerial level in Washington among Prime Minister Khalil, Foreign Minister Dayan and Secretary Vance. I would be happy to make Camp David available for these talks, so that the three Ministers and their aides would be able to work in private, without interruption, and away from the pressures and glare of the news media. If it is convenient, I suggest that the Ministerial talks begin soon after Secretary Vance and I return from our forthcoming visit to Mexico,6 specifically, on Wednesday, February 21. I am also communicating this suggestion to Prime Minister Begin.

I recognize that Prime Minister Khalil and Foreign Minister Dayan would need to consult closely with you and with Prime Minister Begin, respectively, as the talks progress. I would anticipate that, after several days of intensive discussions, the Ministers might then want to return home to consult with their governments.

In making this suggestion, Mr. President, I assure you of my continued personal commitment to the successful conclusion of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and to the implementation of the Framework agreed at Camp David for a Comprehensive Peace in the Middle East. I also recognize and appreciate how much you have already contributed toward making a successful outcome possible. We now owe it to ourselves, to the peoples of Egypt and Israel, and indeed to all the peoples of the Middle East, to make a determined effort to realize the vision which led you to Jerusalem. I look forward to hearing from you [Page 604]at your earliest convenience, Mr. President, and meanwhile send to you my warm personal regards and continued high respect.

Sincerely yours,

Jimmy Carter

End text.

4. We believe it would be desirable to announce7 that Ministerial-level talks will resume at Camp David as soon as this has been agreed by both sides—hopefully in the course of this week. Our intention would be to issue a brief statement along the following lines:

Quote: At President Carter’s invitation, President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin have agreed that negotiations between Egypt and Israel should be resumed at Ministerial level. Prime Minister Khalil, Foreign Minister Dayan and Secretary Vance will participate in these talks, which will begin at Camp David on February 21. In agreeing to these talks, all sides have affirmed their commitment to the Camp David Accords and their determination that these negotiations be completed as quickly as possible. Unquote. Please ascertain GOE reaction to an announcement along foregoing lines.

5. I would like you and Sam Lewis to return to participate in these talks. Perhaps you could come back on aircraft with Secretary Brown who, we understand, will leave Cairo Sunday, February 18. This would give us a chance for in-house discussions with you and Sam before talks with Khalil and Dayan begin.

Vance
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840163–0723. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Atherton; cleared by Quandt, Sterner, Hansell, and Stanislaus R.P. Valerga (S/S–O); approved by Vance. Sent for information Immediate to Tel Aviv and the White House. A draft version of this letter, bearing Carter’s handwritten amendments, and an attached, undated covering memorandum from Brzezinski to Carter upon which Carter initialed his approval is in the Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Subject File, Box 36, Serial Xs—(1/79–2/79).
  2. Eilts delivered Carter’s letter to Sadat on February 8. Upon receiving the letter, Sadat verbally informed Eilts of his acceptance of the invitation. (Telegram 2882 from Cairo, February 8; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840163–0858)
  3. See Document 178.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 162.
  5. See Documents 168 and 170.
  6. See footnote 6, Document 174.
  7. See footnote 8, Document 174.