President Reagan, declaring that “every day is an opportunity” to promote peace in the Middle East, met today with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in an effort to open Arab-Israeli negotiations.
Reagan said the current impasse was “one of our great concerns,” but he gave no indication in posing for photographs with Mubarak that the two leaders could devise a new approach.
Mubarak, who urged Reagan during a visit last March to open a dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization, did not repeat the advice as they sat in matching wing chairs in the Oval Office. “Let us discuss these points with the President before we say publicly,” he said.
Asked if he was reconsidering his position since the United States is boycotting the PLO until it accepts Israel’s right to exist, Mubarak said “I have on mind so many things to discuss.”
Mubarak, who arrived Saturday, began a one-day round of talks today with an appeal to Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger for the United States to expedite delivery of weapons. Egypt, using free loans, purchases about $1 billion in American arms annually.
A U.S. official who demanded anonymity said, however, that there was no urgency in Mubarak’s request and that he was not seeking new weapons now.
An Egyptian official said the main purpose of the visit was to express to Reagan “the feeling that things have to keep moving.” The official, who insisted on anonymity, said Mubarak would also report to the President on his talks last week with King Hussein of Jordan.