Efforts to revive the flatering Middle East peace talks apparently failed yesterday as Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat met in Cairo and, according to official reports, made "no progress" toward breaking the deadlock.
The Egyptian presidential spokesman announced in Cairo that negotiations between Israel and Egypt remained deadlocked and that the political and military talks, which were broken off in January, would not be resumed until there was a "sufficient basis" for renewed negotiations.
The apparent failure of Wiezman's mission spread dismay here and in Egypt. It could have serious political repercussions for Prime Minister Menachem Begin's government.
In agreeing to Weizman's visit, the Egyptians are understood to have expected that he would bring new proposals that would at least provide a justification for Egypt to agree to resume full-blown peace talks.
According to reports here and in Cairo, however, Weizman brought only some changes in the wording of previous Israeli positions and a proposal for a greater role for Palestinians in the occupied West Banks and Gaza Strip that fell far short of the self-determination that Egypt demands.
Osama Baz, Egypt's undersecretary for foreign affairs, described the talks with Weizman as an effort by Egypt to "give the Begin government a chance, which might be the last chance, to prove to us and to the world at large that it is changing its attitude."
Weizman stayed in Cairo overnight, and it was not clear last night whether there would be more talks there today. Israeli sources said Weizman would probably return to Israel sometime today, but there was no official confirmation.
Cairo radio said last night that Sadat would send a letter to President Carter today briefing him on the results of the talks with Wiezman.
The Wiezman trip came as thousands of Israeli troops occupy southern Lebanon, and Sadat brought up the issue in the talks.
According to the Egyptian spokesman, Weizman promised Sadat that the Israeli troops would not stay in Lebanon "one minute" after the deployment of the U.N. peacekeeping force.
The Weizman mission to Cairo, which was conceived at last Sunday's Israeli Cabinet meeting, was viewed here as a last-ditch chance to resume direct talks with Egypt following the failure of Begin's mission to Washington. In Washington, Begin was unable to narrow the gap between the American and Israeli views of what is necessary to keep and Sadat peace initiative going.
The visit to Cairo was suggested by Weizman, who admitted publicly last week that Israel could have done more in the way of trying to keep up the peace momentum that Sadat's visit to Jerusalem had engendered.
Weizman had complained privately that when he last went to Cairo he was not given enough that was new to carry the negotiations forward.
It is not known exactly what he carried this time but, Begin's speech to the Israeli parliament Wednesday contained no new concessions.
It appears, however, it was Israel wanted to sell and thus the Weizman mission has failed. The fact that Sadat allowed Weizman to come to Cairo is being intepreted here as an indication that Sadat, like Weizman, viewed this meeting as a chance to try to bridge the gap between them.
According to informed sources here, the Egyptians wanted yesterday's meeting between Sadat and Weizman to be a secret. But the secret had been leaked in Israel.
Weizman's visit to Egypt had little of the fanfare that accompanied similar visits there by Israeli officials in the past.
Reporters and photographers were not allowed to Cairo airport to cover Weizman's arrival and reporters were barred from the site of the talks between Sadat and Weizman, although photographers were admitted briefly.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry officials, quoted by Associated Press in Cairo, said the unusual government restrictions on press coverage were apparently an effort "not to give the more importance than is merited to the Weizman trip."
The apparent failure of the Weizman mission is likely to strengthen the hand of those who say Begin should take a more flexible approach in the peace negotiations.
Begin, however, demonstrated his political strength Wednesday when he handily won a parliamentary vote of approval for his Middle East policy and those who know him well say that he cannot be persuaded to change his mind by political pressures.