President Anwar Sadat said today he wants to sign a peace treaty with Israel in a single ceremony in Washington, implying he does not wish to go to Jerusalem or have Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin come here for duplicate ceremonies.
To sign all three versions of the text -- Hebrew, Arabic and English -- at one ceremony in Washington, he said, would be a tribute to President Carter, whom he described as "the unknown soldier" behind the success of the negotiations.
Begin has proposed that the peace treaty be signed three times in three capitals -- in English in Washington, in Hebrew in Jerusalem, and in Arabic in Cairo. Sadat, in rebuffing that suggestion, said he was doing so only because of his admiration for Carter and his desire to pay tribute to him, not because he was reluctant to further tarnish his image in the Arab world in ceremonies that would, by implication, recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
He said Carter's "courageous, daring and persistent effort" had led to a solution of "one of the most complicated problems in the world, with a terrible heritage behind it."
"I prefer to sign the whole thing in a ceremony with Jimmy Carter," he added. "Jimmy Carter has done it. It was his show." sadat was speaking to reporters in his native village of Mit Abul Kom in the Nile Delta, where he had come, he said, to "celebrate" with the local population and "tell my brother" of the peace accord with Israel.
Sadat's younger brother Atef, a pilot, was killed in action against Israel on the first day of the 1973 war and is buried at Mit Abul Kom. He died, Sadat said, "in the first five minutes of the October war, but now we can say he did not die in vain."
He impatiently brushed aside a reporter's suggestion that he was unwilling to exchange visits with Begin. "We are starting a whole new era," he said. "We have no conflict" with the Israelis.
As for criticism from the other Arabs, he dismissed that as lightly today as he always has in the past. Nothing that he had been condemned throughout the Arab world at every previous stage of the peace process since the 1973 war, he said: "They will never change history. Everyone must reconsider his ideas."
Sadat's proposal to conduct the treaty ceremony only once as a tribute to Carter further emphasized the extend to which Egypt under his leadership is aligning itself politically, economically and strategically with the United States. Although Sadat admires Carter personally, the alignment was already evident when Richard M. Nixon was president and Sadat, having scored what the Arabs viewed as a historic victory in the 1973 war, accelerated the turn away from the Soviet Union and toward the United States.
His defense minister, Gen. Kamal Hassan Ali, is in the United States for talks on strategic policy and American military aid to Egypt. Tonight, a high-level American economic team arrived in Cairo for parallel discussions on economic assistance. The American team is headed by Richard Cooper, under secretary of state for economic affairs.
Sadat said after signing the Camp David agreements last September that when peace came he would be seeking development of a Carter Plan of economic aid to Egypt, similar to the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe after World War II. He has spoken of requesting $5 billion a year for five years in development assistance from the United States, Western Europe and Japan.
That figure was received with some skepticism by members of Congress to whom Sadat floated it, especially since the country has had difficulty making constructive use of aid already flowing in. Today Sadat mentioned no figure.
He said the Americans would meet Prime Minister Mustafa Khalil and other Cabinet ministers to prepare a "paper" that Sadat would discuss when he travels to Washington. He said he also is planning to visit West Germany and Japan to press his aid requests there.
Sadat declined today to tell reporters just what had happened in the last-minute meeting with Carter on Tuesday that led to the surprise agreement. So far, the Fgyptians have not officially disclosed what the arrangements are, but Sadat may do so when he meets Saturday morning with members of parliament.