Vice President Walter Mondale has expanded his Middle East trip to include Egypt as well as Israel, as part of a growing U.S. effort to revive the deadlock peace negotiations.
Mondale will stop in Cairo or Alexandria to see President Anwar Sadat on July 3 after a goodwill visit to Israel that begins June 29, his office announced yesterday.
U.S. officials portrayed the expansion of Mondale's trip as an increasingly substantive effort to prepare the way for a resumption of Egyptian-Israeli talks.
However, more detailed and important discussions may take place in London or another European capital later next month if Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance succeeds in an effort to convene a joint meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel and Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan.
The Cairo newspaper Al Ahram disclosed yesterday that such a meeting is under discussion. Washington Post Correspondent William Claiborne reported from Jerusalem that Israeli government sources confirmed the report.
Such a foreign ministers meeting would be the first since Egypt broke off talks with Israel in a joint "political committee" last January. The U.S. hope is that new proposals expected from Egypt, along with recent Israeli replies, can be the basis for U.S. guided talks to bridge the gap, with or without U.S. proposals for a compromise settlement.
One plan under discussion in the State Department is for Vance to leave Washington on July 6 or shortly thereafter for the Egyptian-Israeli meeting, then join President Carter for the Bon economic summit from July 13-17 and possibly meet Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko somewhere in Europe for a new round of strategic arms limitation talks before returning to Washington. None of these events except the Born summit - is yet confirmed.
If the Egyptian-Israeli foreign ministers' are successful, Vance or special U.S. ambassador Alfred L. Atherton could travel to the Middle East for further talks, including sessions withSadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Mondale's trip, which originally was described as a goodwill and ceremonial mission in connection with Israil's 30th anniversary, takes on greater importance in view of the Egyptian stopover. Mondale is to be accompanied by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Harold Saunders and William Quandt, Middle East specialist of the National Security Council staff, as well as David Aaron, deputy to presidential assistant Zbigniew Brezezinski.
In addition, Mondale has invited Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher to accompany him. Christopher's acceptance will depend on Vance's travel plans at the time. Mondale also is planning to take several American Jewish leaders, in an effort to repair the rift with Israel arising from negotiating differences and the sale of U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Reports from Jerusalem said Israeli officials reacted calmly to mild U.S. criticism of last Sunday's cabinet statement of the government's position on the future of the West Bank and Gaza strip, and to stronger criticism from Sen. Jacob Javits (R.N.Y.)
"Not all our position are identical to those of the United States. We have always had friends who disagree with some of our policies," a senior official was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Sen. Clifford Case (R.N.J.), criticized "the increasing effort of the United States to shape the actual terms of a final settlement in the Middle East, contrary to our long-standing position and to the dictates of wise statesmanship."
Case, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the best plan to a Mideast solution would be for both sides to concentrate on "practical issues" that can be dealt with.
"Israel should not be pressed to state what its ultimate positions are." Case said. "The Arab countries should not be pressed to do so either. We should insist only that both of them work on the practical question that can be discussed and dealth with."