In Egypt preparations are under way for the Christmas summit between President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
In Egypt preparations are under way for the Christmas summit between President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. News that the two leaders would meet on Sunday at Ismailia came on Monday (19 December) as Egyptian and Israeli legal experts met for talks on reconvening the Geneva Middle East peace conference.
SYNOPSIS: The talks, which have been taking place at Mena House near Cairo, had begun a week previously with both sides pledging their determination to work for an end to hostilities.
On Monday the preparatory peace conference resumed after a three-day recess. Delegates were to discuss a report prepared by an Egyptian-Israeli legal committee on the procedural basis for the talks. But this session only lasted half a day, as the Israelis asked for time off to visit President Sadat's birthplace.
The next day, Israeli delegation leader Dr. Eliahu Ben-Elissar, and other members of his team received an enthusiastic welcome from the villagers of Mit Abuel Kom, where President Sadat was born.
Dr. Ben Elissar had asked to be shown the village as a gesture of courtesy to the president. The prosperous agricultural village is in the central Nile Delta. President Sadat was born there nearly 59 years ago and the village is very proud of this connection. The house where he was born has become something of a shrine. Dr. Ben-Elissar and General Tamir of the Israeli delegation spent some time there learning more about the President's early years.
Viewed from the Nile is Ismailia, where President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin will meet on Christmas Day...which is also the President's 59th birthday.
The Christmas summit is to be held just north of Ismailia on the Island of Knights which offers more seclusion than the city. Tight security precautions will be mounted, and already helicopters have started to patrol the area.
The house where the Christmas meeting is to be held is now President Sadat's country villa. It is in an oasis of gardens and woods overlooking the Suez Canal, and was originally built for the French Empress Eugenie when she opened the Canal in 1869. It was from this island that President Sadat set out last month for his historic visit to Jerusalem.