259. Letter From Egyptian President Sadat to President Carter1

Dear President Carter,

During the recent celebration of the restoration of Egyptian authority to the capital of Sinai, El-Arish, the Egyptian people’s feeling of pride and joy was equalled only by their gratitude and praise for the unforgettable role you played in bringing about this happy event. Without your thoughtful contribution, the conclusion of the Peace Treaty would have been impossible. I have no doubt that this role will continue until all remaining aspects of the conflict are tackled with the same sense of determination and commitment. It is with this in mind that we have been accelerating the pace of normalization of relations with Israel.

It is in this spirit also that we are approaching the second phase of negotiations. We are doing so with hope and optimism despite our realization that we are still faced with many extremely difficult problems. I firmly believe that we can achieve our common goal if we preserve the coordination and consultation we have maintained since we started the peace process. I am sure that Secretary Vance has conveyed to you what took place in the past few days.2 I have also asked Vice President Mubarak to put you fully in the picture3 with respect to recent developments as well as our conception of how to move next in order to make meaningful progress promptly. As you know, I strongly feel that there is an urgent need to produce tangible progress soon with respect to Jerusalem. I hope that Prime Minister Begin can demonstrate more flexibility in this area as he realizes the favorable results this is certain to effect. The problem of settlements is another sensitive area to which all [Page 858] Arabs attach great significance. The statement4 which was issued a few days ago by the U.S. Department of State on the illegality of these settlements and the threat they constitute to the peace process was quite appropriate and timely. You might also deem it suitable to take this issue up with Mr. Begin in the near future.

In your forthcoming talks with President Brezhnev,5 it would be helpful if you persuade him to be more cooperative with regard to extending the mandate of the United Nations Emergency Forces especially after having agreed to the same on the Syrian front. Their position in this respect is rather weak and the arguments they are presenting are unfounded. The Legal Adviser of the United Nations Secretariat has concluded in a memorandum that the failure to extend the mandate of the Forces would be contrary to the Charter itself, let alone the difficulties it creates to the peace-keeping operation. If he remains adamant on this point, it might be worth exploring to get his consent to broadening the operation area of the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization. The mandate of this Organization does not need to be extended and hence, a mere extension of the area of operation would be easier although the force is not equipped enough to handle this responsibility.

In an attempt to facilitate your task of proposing the formation of a multinational force in case your efforts to persuade the Soviet Union to cooperate fail, we are currently considering the setting up of an all-African force. It would be composed of friendly African nations that have a genuine interest in the maintenance of security and stability in this vital approach to their continent.

I am seizing this opportunity also to write to you about a matter of major concern to us. Undoubtedly, you know the importance we attach to the modernization of our armed forces with a view to enabling them to discharge their awesome responsibilities. You are also aware of the central role I assigned to them in the crucial field of transfer of technology in the era of reconstruction. I have emphasized the new role the armed forces should play in adapting sophisticated technology to our needs in the areas of housing, infrastructure, food production, agroindustry and land reclamation. Hence, I reiterated before the Egyptian [Page 859] people that the armed forces have a greater mission in time of peace than their task at war-time.

On the other hand, the Soviet Union has been virtually excluded as a supplier of weapons for several years. Thus, we are confronted with the challenge of modernizing the weapons system at the same time we are faced with the problem of replacing our dwindling stock of arms. It was for these two reasons that we agreed on a new role for the United States as a major supplier of arms and military equipment. You would certainly recall that I told you that it was an absolute must to take twenty steps forward in this direction. Promptly, you dispatched your competent officials to coordinate with their Egyptian counterparts plans for this supply.

In all candor, I must tell you that the results of these contacts have not been satisfactory enough. While your representatives were quite appreciative of our problems and needs, what we have been offered to meet these needs was short of meeting our needs, both in quality and quantity.

At a time when the financing of the purchase of the F5 planes by Saudi Arabia is being blocked for reasons you well know, we have been offered only 35 F4 planes and twelve air defense batteries. We might understand the reasons why it is difficult to provide us with the more sophisticated F–15 and F–16. However, the supply of only 35 F4 planes, 16 of which to be delivered before October 6, is not the answer to our needs. Our Air-Force command says that it is crucial to increase the number of aircrafts and equip them with “Maverick” type of rocket in order to ensure effectiveness.

Perhaps the position of the naval forces is more precarious. U.S. officials have offered to provide them with two gearing class destroyers whose equipment and electronic gear are of a less sophisticated quality than the Soviet destroyers which have been in use in our Navy for some time. They also offered to sell Egypt a diesel-operated submarine which is of the same quality more or less. You are aware of the priority I am attaching to our naval forces in the light of the current situation in the area. Serving our purpose would require providing us with more advanced types of destroyers, submarines and fast patrol boats equipped with guided missiles.

On the other hand, the withdrawal of our three Arab partners from the Arab Organization for Industrialization6 confronts us with some [Page 860] problems. First and foremost, it could have a negative impact on the manufacture of aircraft, the development of sophisticated anti-tank missiles and our drive to introduce a higher degree of modern technology and know-how. I believe that you do not want to see this happening. I also believe that the United States can step in and take part with us in this operation in one form or the other. To contain the negative impact of such reckless move on their part, we have turned the Organization into an Egyptian institution. Joint U.S.-Egyptian companies could be founded to boost our strategic industries and build the technological base we have committed ourselves to establish in the context of the post-war reconstruction. If this proves difficult at this stage, American companies could be encouraged to cooperate with our Organization one way or the other.

I trust that you agree with me on the necessity of demonstrating to our armed forces that our partnership in the peace process is mutually beneficial and that there will be no weakening of our defense capabilities whatsoever. This is so in the light of their realization of their role in the coming few years as an element of peace and stability in the region. Such faith in the future requires reassuring all our armed services that their weapons system is going to improve rather than deteriorate as a result of our bolstered friendship with the United States. It is equally important to reassure the Egyptian people of the state of their armed forces and their ability to bear their awesome responsibilities.

Needless to say that the absence of a genuine effort to remedy this situation promptly would give rise to misinterpretations and adverse reaction in the Arab World too. It will lend credence to the false allegation that the signing of Peace Treaty will signal a weakening of Egypt’s defense capability. Certain circles are fond of making comparisons between the Soviet readiness to saturate its allies with military equipment and the United States more hesitant and cautious attitude with its friends. We want to dispel these notions.

Vice President Mubarak will also discuss with you a few points related to our economic cooperation. I have no doubt that you will lend our requests with regard to the “Carter Plan”7 your enthusiastic sup [Page 861] port. As you know, the success of our ambitious drive to rejuvenate our economy depends heavily on the materialization of this plan. The Summit8 which is scheduled to convene on June 29 in Tokyo would be a golden opportunity to give this plan the push it needs at this junction. Prime Minister Khaleel has submitted a memorandum9 to Secretary Vance during his recent visit to Egypt on an additional five hundred thousand tons of wheat and wheat flour equivalent. We received no official reply to this request although it has been said unofficially that there are certain problems involved. I trust your judgment and your ability to overcome such problems, if any.

It is not at all my intention to add to your already heavy burden. But I feel that through our special relationship we can achieve what is good for our two peoples and for World peace. May God Almighty grant you all the strength you need to translate all your dreams into a living reality.

Best wishes and warmest regards,

Mohammed Anwar El-Sadat
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 5, Egypt: President Anwar al-Sadat, 1–12/79. No classification marking. At the top of the letter, Carter wrote: “Zbig, cc Cy J.” The Department cabled the text of the letter in telegram 163814 to Cairo, June 25. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, State Department Out, Box 116, 6/15–25/79)
  2. See Document 256.
  3. See Document 260.
  4. On June 4, the Department protested in a formal statement the Israeli Cabinet’s decision to authorize the establishment by Gush Emunim of a settlement, Elon Moreh, near Nablus, describing it as “harmful to the peace process and particularly regrettable at this time.” (Jim Hoagland, “U.S. Protests Israeli Plan for Settlement on West Bank,” The Washington Post, June 5, 1979, p. A10) Elon Moreh was formally established as an Israeli settlement with construction commencing on June 7. (William Claiborne, “Israel Quickly Erects West Bank Settlement,” The Washington Post, June 8, 1979, p. A1)
  5. Carter met with Brezhnev in Vienna June 16–18 to sign the SALT II Treaty. The two leaders discussed the situation in the Middle East in the fourth plenary session on June 17. See Document 265.
  6. Established in May 1975 by Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates in order to facilitate greater Arab self-reliance in military production, the Arab Organization for Industrialization was scheduled to be disbanded on July 1. Announcing the disbandment in Riyadh on May 14, Prince Sultan stated “the signing by Egypt of the peace treaty contradicted the reason and purpose for which the organization was established.” (Christopher S. Wren, “Saudis Scuttle a Billion-Dollar Arms Consortium With Factories in Egypt,” The New York Times, May 15, 1979, p. A3)
  7. A term used by Sadat to describe an intermittently repeated proposal for a multinational aid and development program for Egypt. Described in an interview with journalist Joseph Kraft in November 1978 as an Egyptian equivalent of the Marshall Plan, the plan initially called for the provision of $10–15 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt over a five year period. (Telegram 24572 from Cairo, November 8; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780461–0578) Speaking with a congressional delegation in Cairo on January 6, Sadat stated that the United States, Japan, and West Germany should be the “principal participants” in the plan, in order to “bring needed economic development to Egypt and strengthen Egypt’s role as a stabilizing factor” in the Middle East and Africa. (Telegram 397 from Cairo, January 8; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790010–0116)
  8. Reference is to the Economic Summit Meeting of the Heads of State and Government of Canada, France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom, held in Tokyo June 28–29.
  9. A copy of the document has not been found. In telegram 130645 to the U.S. Mission to the Sinai, May 22, the Department reported that the Embassy in Cairo had received a letter addressed to Vance from Khalil on May 19, requesting an additional 500,000 tons of wheat from the United States under Public Law 480. The letter stated that Egypt’s shortage of foreign exchange meant it would not be able to purchase adequate supplies of wheat. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790234–0020)