President Anwar Sadat, in buoyant spirits after a telephone call from President Carter in which they discussed the peace proposals carried to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin, said today that he is "more optimistic" than ever about chances for a peace settlement.
Sadat also announced that he and Begin will meet somewhere in Egypt - probably late this week - to discuss the Israeli offer. There were indications that the meeting would take place in the Suez Canal city of Ismalia.
Sadat said he didn't receive a precise plan from Mr. Carter," only "certain points for clarification," and that so far he has not received any comprehensive Israeli response to his peace initiative.
But it is understood that Begin would not be received here unless Sadat believed he was coming with some acceptable proposals.
Sadat refused to be drawn out about the timing or duration of Begin's visit, saying only that it would be "soon" and in Egypt.
But he said it would not be a state visit and he indicated that it would not take place in Cairo.
According to Israeli sources, Begin probably could not come to Egypt before Thursday, and he is not expected to remain overnight. That reinforced the impression given by Sadat that his meeting with Begin is to be a brief although crucial negotiating session devoid of the elaborate ceremonies that marked Sadat's trip to Israel last month.
Sadat spoke in a wide-ranging conversation with about 20 correspondents including an Israeli radio reporter who sat next to the president's chair in a sitting room of the official residence on the Nile.
Seeing the foreign press has become a major part of Sadat's statecraft and he is enjoying it these days. When he entered the room, which is decorated with copies of European period pieces, baroque furniture and a plate with a portrait of Napoleon, he greeted the reporters with a cheery "good morning."
He knows many of them well and and appeared to be in high good humor as he joked with them and laughing dodged questions he did not want to answer. He said he and Carter had agreed that they needed to be "discreet" for the next several days.
Sadat, who has often said that it is now they needed to be "discreet" for the next ponse to his dramatic gesture to them, said up to the Israelis to offer an aceptable resntil this moment I can't say that there is a development on the Israeli side I am waiting like all of you and like the whole world for the answer, for the response of Prime Minister Begin to my visit to Jerusalem." But he said that everything is really moving very fast."
During his bisit to Israel Sadat said that Begin had the "right" to come to Egypt but that they had agreed for undisclosed reasons to defer such a visit.
Asked what had changed since then, Sadat answered, "We are in a very queer world of change." Even when he proclaimed that Begin had the right to come to Egypt, Sadat said, "I never imagined that this can take place soon." This reinforced the impression that Begin, through Carter, has told Sadat what he wants to hear.
Sadat said Carter transmitted to him not a "precise plan" but "certain points." He said he was asked to comment on them and did so almost immediately through the U.S. ambassador here, Hermann Eilts.
Sadat said he and Carter agreed to withhold any comment on details until after Sadat and Begin meet.
Late tonight Egyptian officials said they still had no firm information about the visit but the most probable site is Ismalia on the Suez Canal.
Sadat was speaking on the second day of a three-day recess in the preparatory peace talks involving Egypt, Israel, the United States and the United Nations that opened here on Wednesday. Those negotiations are to resume on Monday and Sadat said he was "very happy" that they are under way.
The whole nature and direction of the Cairo conference have been left vague while find out what was going on in Washington.
What they Egyptians feared most was that Begin would not offer anything that would make an acceptable basis for further high level discussions, leaving the Cairo conference as the main arena. That would have represented a dangerous slowing of the momemtum, in the Egyptian view, and it clearly has not happened.
It is now possible to envisage this conference evolving in the new year into what the Egyptians want it tobe, a technical and operational gathering that will draft proposals and agendas for carrying out agreements reached by Sadat and Begin.
Sadat said the level of representation of the Cairo conference would be raised after "the step all of us are waiting for, the response of Mf. Begin to my trip to Jerusalem."
He will not bargain over territory. "This is our land," he said. "I'm not going to lose my time discussing our international borders. I shall never do this."
He still believes that only Palestinian homeland created on the occupied West Bank of the Jordan should be constitutionally linked to the Jordanian monarchy, as he himself proposed a year ago in what is now seen as the first of his startling series of peace overtures. He said that in their recent talks he and King Hussein have reached "complete agrement" on this.
He wanted the Palestine Liberation Organization to represent the Palestinian people at the Cairo meeting. He knew Israel would object but said "I would have stood with them - the PLO - whatever the consequences." By joining the rejections' Arab states opposed to Sadat, the PLO has "lost the opportunity" to take part, Sadat said.
He has had no contacts with President Hafex Assad of Syria since the Jerusalem trip. They split publicly two days before the trip when Assad failed to dissuade Sadat from going.
Sadat said it was "not excluded that he would meet again with Carter but said such talks are scheduled.He said he would not meet the American president during Carter's foreign tour later this month, which will take him to Saudi Arabia, among other countries.