The Carter administration yesterday asked Congress to provide nearly $3 billion in aid for Israel and Egypt to bolster the Middle East peace effort.
An administration official told the House subcommittee on the Middle East that Egypt has scored a major success in overcoming serious economic ills.
Egypt would get $750 million in economic assistance and $220 million in surplus U.S. foodstuffs, while Israel would receive $785 million in economic assistance and $1 billion in credits for the purchase of U.S. military equipment.
The proposed aid is at about the same level as last year.
The annual requests coincided with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance's preparations for a Camp Davic meeting next week with Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Khalil.
State Department officials assert they still have hopes an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty will be signed in the coming months.
"A major success story is shaping up in Egypt" Joseph Wheeler, assistant administrator for the Agency for International Development, told the House panel.
"Egypt sustained an 8 percent growth rate during each of the past three years. Prospects are good for continued rapid growth."
Wheeler said that Egypt has made remarkable progress in meeting its balance of payments thanks to U.S. aid and "fast disbursing Arab assistance.
"All told, Egyptian earnings from workers remittances, petroleum exports, tourism and the Suez Canal doubled between 1976 and 1978 to a level of about $4 billion."
The United States has provided about $12 billion in aid to Israel since 1973, and $4 billion to Egypt, according to Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), chairman of the committee.
Other panel members expressed surprise the United States was planning to spend $70 million to improve the Cairo telephone system.
"Any modern society has to have a telephone system," Wheeler replied. "The lack of it is deeply felt by Egyptians and foreigners who might wish to invest. If it had a good telephone system, Egypt could become a center of business investment in the Middle East."