Foreign and defense ministers from Egypt and Israel have been invited to Washington next week to begin negotiations on a peace treaty between the two Middle Eastern neighbors that have been enemies for 30 years, diplomatic sources said last night.
U.S. sponsorship of the meeting and selection of Washington as the site were signs of a continuing strong American role in carrying forward the results of the Camp David summit conference. Earlier expectations were that negotiations for the Egypt-Israel peace pact would take place in the Middle East.
First word of the Washington arrangements came from the well-connected Egyptians news over Al Abram, which said the talks would begin Oct. [WORD ILLEGIBLE] following holidays surrounding the Jewish new year and the Oct. 11 observance of the Jewish Yom Kippur.
That date was later confirmed by the government-run Cairo radio.
Observers noted that *it was on yom Kippur five years ago, when the holiday fell on Oct. 6, that President Anwar Sadat of Egypt seat his troops storming screes the Suez Canal at the outbreak of the fourth Middle East war involving Egypt and Israel since the Jewish state's birth in 1948.
Informed sources cautioned, however, that arrangements for the talks were still incomplete. A last-minute hitch could delay or change the president plans, they said.
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin left the hospital yesterday after a two-day stay for what his doctors said was fatigue. Israeli officials said his final approval could firm up the negotiating schedule.
Israeli officials cited by Reuter news agency, however, said some of Begin's advisers oppose the choice of Washington for the talks, arguing it would give the United States too important a role. Sadat is known to be eager to have the United States involved as closely as possible.
High-level delegations from Egypt and Israel would be the main participants in the talks, which over such issues as the details and timing of Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Sinai and the nature of relations between the two countries after the treaty takes effect.
Egypt's Deputy Prime Minister and War Minister, Gen. Mohammed Abdul Ghani Gamassi, and Acting Foreign Minister Boutros Ghali, as well as a supporting cast of other officials from Cairo, are expected to take part. On the Israeli side, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman are expected to participate, along with other lower-ranking officials.
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance is expected to be the official leader of the U.S. delegation, with special U.S. Middle East negotiator Alfred Atherton and other specialists assisting in day-to-day talks.
The negotiations are likely to take several weeks at the least. It is uncertain whether they could be concluded before Vance is scheduled to go to Moscow during the second half of October for negotiations on limiting strategic arms.
The U.S. rule could prove vital in moving the Egyptians and Israelis toward compromise if - as is likely - sticking points come up in the talks. President Carter's mediation in the Camp David talks was credited by both Begin and Sadat as having saved the summit meeting from collapse.
It appeared that the choice of Washington already was a U.S.-sponsored compromise. Egypt had suggested Israelia, as Egyptian town beside the Suez Canal where Sadat and Begin met last Christmas, as a site for the treaty talks.
Israel, however, was pressing for alternating the talks between Israel and Egypt. Israilia and Beersheba, in the southern Israeli Negev, were mentioned as possibilities.