Egyptian President Anwar Sadat is due to arrive in Washington next Friday for several days of talks with President Carter to speed up the drive for Arab-Israeli peace negotiations.
Sadat is expected to be in the United States from Friday to Wednesday, it was learned. Official announcements are scheduled today, in Cairo and in Washington.
Tomorrow, Israel's cabinet is expected to authorize the resumption in Cairo early next week of military talks about Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai peninsula. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin will send Defense Minister Ezer Weizman to Cairo to resume those negotiations, Israeli sources said.
In addition, diplomatic hopes are mounting that Egypt and Israel, as a result of American mediation, may soon reach accord on overall principles for peace settlements. Agreement on these key guidelines may come before the Sadat-Carter meeting diplomatic sources said: if not, they will be the takeoff point for the Washington discussions.
Sadat abruptly broke off the Egyptian-Israeli political talks in Jerusalem about these principles on Jan. 18, the second day of the meeting. Israel then balked at continuing the military talks in Cairo, and all public, formal negotiations were derailed in a cross-fire of public accusations about who was to blame.
President Carter, and Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance, who was caught in the Jerusalem breakup, took the lead in appealing for an end to acrimony and a shift to "quiet diplomacy." In the intervening days, with Assistant Secretary of State Alfred I. Atherton Jr. left on the scene for repair work, the parties have been brought back on the negotiating track.
American officials newly cautioned yesterday, however, against expectations of any early"dramatic break-through."
Atherton traveled yesterday from Jerusalem to Amman to encourage Jordan's participation in the peace talks later, and he is due in Cairo early next week.
Egypt is especially anxious for Jordan to join in the peace talks, so that Egypt is not left bargaining alone, exposed to charges from other Arab nations that Sadat seeks only a separate Egyptian peace settlement.
This is why agreement is necessary, in the first instance, on a broad set of Arab-Israeli peace principles, on terms that Jordan will accept before it will enter the formal negotiations.
Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, on Thursday, pointedly said that the next move is up to Egypt: "I believe that thanks to the U.S. mediation, or really contributions, there are chances that we will reach a joint declaration of principles with the Egyptians, unless the Egyptians want to artificially prevent such an agreement."
Although there were published report yesterday that Israel's Begin also would come to Washington separately from Sadat in February or March, Israeli officials said Begin presently is not scheduled to visit the United States until late April, to celebrate Israel's 30th anniversary.
Just before, and after, last week's breakdown of the political talks, Egyptian sources floated the idea of a Sadat-Begin-Carter summit in Washington. The Carter administration gave the idea no encouragement, however, on grounds that Egypt and Israel should do the primary negotiating with each other, on the scene.
Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz, who met with Vance yesterday and conferred the day before with presidential national security affairs adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, said there was no discussion of a Begin visit. Begin has been in Washington twice in the Carter administration, and Sadat once last April.
"We think that significant progress" has been made since last week's suspension of the talks in Jerusalem, Dintiz told reporters.
Diplomatic sources said that Israel, which offered "self-rule" to Arab Palestinians living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank of the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip but rejected "self-determination" for them, has accepted American compromise terminology: they should have a voice in "the determination" of their own future.
This language is drawn from the proposal Carter made in his meeting with Sadat on Jan. 4 at Aswan. Carter called for solving the Palestinian problem "in all its aspects," recognizing the "legitimate rights" of the Palestinians and said any solution must "enable the Palestinians to participate in the determination of their own future."
Israel rejects the "self-determination" language which Egypt and other Arabs nation seek, on grounds that it is a commitment to an independent state. But the word "determination" alone is diplomatically ambiguous enough for Israel to accept.
In addition, the United States has employed another ambiguity to bridge the gap on the Arab demand for Israeli withdrawal from all war-occupied territory.
This compromise, accepted by Israel, invokes the deliberately ambiguous language of United Nations Resolution 242, ending the Six-Day War of 1967. It called for Israeli withdrawal from occupied land, but did not specify how much withdrawal. The Arabs have maintained it means total withdrawal, Israel always has insisted it does not.
The Palestinian question and the withdrawal principle were two prime unresolved issues when the formal negotiations were suspended last week.
American mediator Atherton, who met yesterday with U.S. ambassadors from the Middle East in Amman, is scheduled to confer today with Jordan's King Hussein about a future Jordanian role in the negotiations. Jordan is the prospective link to any Palestinian homeland on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, to preclude a takeover by Arab militants.
Diplomatic sources forecast yesterday that Hussein is likely to await the outcome of the Carter-Sadat talks in Washington before deciding if he will join the peace talks. Syria, which opposes the whole Sadat initiative and has ties with Jordan, is registering anxiety that Husseim may join the negotiations.