While hard-line Arab leaders opposed to the Egyptian peace initiative were attending a summit conference in the Algerian capital of Algiers on Thursday (2 February), President Anwar Sadat of Egypt was in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.
While hard-line Arab leaders opposed to the Egyptian peace initiative were attending a summit conference in the Algerian capital of Algiers on Thursday (2 February), President Anwar Sadat of Egypt was in the Moroccan capital, Rabat. He had flown there from Cairo on the first leg of an eight-nation tour, which will include vital Middle East Peace talks with United States President Jimmy Carter.
SYNOPSIS: Morocco is the only Arab country President Sadat will visit on his current trip, and it is a country whose government strongly backs his peace initiative. King Hassan the Moroccan head of state, was at the airport to welcome the President and the two leaders were due to have private talks before Mr Sadat flew on to Washington. Before leaving Cairo the Egyptian leader said he hoped his trip would add some momentum to the peace process, but diplomatic sources in Egypt did not expect any dramatic breakthrough.
In Algiers hard-line Arab leaders, including Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad, and the host, President Houari Boumedienne of Algeria, opened their two day summit with a pledge to wreck "every Imperialist plan". They also re-affirmed their support for the Palestinian cause.
The summit was officially opened by President Boumedienne, and he began his speech by saying the conference was not directed against Egypt or its people, but against the policy adopted by its government, which was "completely contrary" to the decision of previous Arab summits. The Palestinian people, he said, had never given President Sadat a mandate to speak on their behalf, and he re-affirmed the support of the conference to combat big-power domination in the Middle East and Africa.
Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat was at the conference, but George Habash, leader of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was absent.
Another notable absentee was the leader of the Libyan Jamahiriyah, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who was reportedly suffering from a stomach ailment. Colonel Gaddafi was host at a summit in Tripoli in December at which the hard line alliance was set up by Algeria, Syria, the Libyan Jamahiriyah, South Yemen and the Palestine Liberation organisation. Then, President Sadat was bitterly attacked on all sides, but this time political analysts said President Boumedienne's criticism of the Egyptian leader was remarkably restrained.