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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 05, 1972

NOTES OF THE DISCUSSION BETWEEN PRESIDENT TITO AND PRESIDENT SADAT

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    "Notes of the Discussion Between President Tito and President Sadat," February 05, 1972, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Tito Presidential Archives. KPR I-3-A. Translated for CWIHP by Lana Obradovic. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112297
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NOTES

About the talks of the President of the Republic with the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Anwar Al Sadat, February 4th and 5th, 1972 in Brioni

The Member of the Federation Council Edvard Kardelj was present during the talks. President Sadat extended regards to President Tito from Brezhnev and Kosigin, with whom he held thorough conversations just a day before in Moscow. Podgorni did not participate in the talks due to his alleged illness. Sadat does not discount the possibility that Podgorni was purposely dropped from the talks because during the previous talks he had been very inflexible and untrustworthy. Talks were difficult and sharp this time, especially at the beginning. Sadat openly told Brezhnev and Kosigin that he is bitter because the Soviets failed to fulfill some obligations they have taken on during his last visit to Moscow in October of last year. In that instance, they agreed on bigger shipments of armaments, airplanes and the newest pontoon bridges for the crossing of the Suez Canal. Egyptians now only have the old Soviet bridges which had already been used during World War II and whose construction takes a whole two hours. According to the agreement, the mentioned armaments were supposed to be shipped by the end of 1971, but up until today nothing has arrived. Sadat said that is not the first time that the Soviets have not fulfilled their obligations.

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The same was the case with the shipment of the TU 22 airplanes which were promised in May of last year during the signing of the Soviet-Egyptian Agreement of Friendship and Cooperation; and which were promised again during the visit of Ponomarjev in July of the same year, and yet they are still waiting for them. The earlier given explanations were unconvincing, and in recent times, they do not even give explanations any more. For a few months, the Soviets have been simply keeping quiet. Besides that, they have been trying to get involved in the way the shipped equipment and armaments are being used. A typical example is that of four scout planes which were delivered last March and which have shown great potential during scouting missions in Sinai and Israel. They were used, however, only four times because the Soviet crew refuses to fly without prior approval from Moscow. Sadat spoke very openly about all of this with Brezhnev and Kosigin. In the beginning, it was very difficult, but by the end they had reached a mutually satisfying agreement, so Sadat said that he was content with the visit and talks in Moscow. As far as the non-completed deliveries of armaments and airplanes is concerned, Brezhnev said that he is personally responsible for that. He stopped the deliveries because he did not want anything to happen in the Middle East prior to Nixon's visit to the Soviet Union. Sadat told him that he could understand that but that he should have told him this earlier. Silence can only cause further serious misunderstandings. President Tito asked whether Brezhnev talked about the stand that USSR will take regarding the Middle East during the talks with the Americans.

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Sadat responded that Brezhnev said he will exert pressure on the Americans but he did not precisely explain how.

Sadat further added that even without taking into account the Soviet failure to deliver the armaments, he decided that Egyptian troops should cross the Suez Canal by the end of 1971, and entrench themselves at least 50 kilometers from its eastern coast so that the new conditions for the opening of the Canal can be established. But the Indian-Pakistani war prevented him from doing this. President Tito asked whether the crossing of the Canal and entrenchment of the Egyptian troops at approximately 50 kilometers from the its eastern coast would demand the operation of wider proportions or would the diversion be enough. Sadat answered that this would be a limited operation because it would not aim at returning Egyptian borders where they were prior to June 5th.

Meanwhile, Sadat continued, the military-political situation in the Middle East has significantly changed. American defeat on the Indian Subcontinent has disturbed the former balance of forces in that region, so the Americans are seeking to compensate by gaining more resolute domination in the Middle East. That is important, so that Nixon is not going to the Moscow talks in a position of weakness. That is why Americans have promised Israel at the beginning of this year not only the new deliveries of Phantoms, but also a license for production of Phantoms and other modern American armaments in Israel itself. The revision of American military-political strategy speaks to the fact that the Americans

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have in recent times sought to block the talks of four and two in the Middle East as well as Yaring's mission. They are now offering their mediation service in the indirect talks between Egypt and Israel regarding the opening of the Suez Canal. It is clear that any solution under American sponsorship would be favorable to Israel and as such is unacceptable to Egypt. In former times, Americans have at least tried to seem unbiased but now they are more and more openly siding with Israel. Soviets do not react to this at all. They are being passive and handing over all initiatives to the Americans. In such a situation, there are not real expectations for a political solution that would be acceptable to Egypt. Security Council Resolution of 1967 speaks of a package of measures for the solution of the Middle Eastern crisis. Then there were discussions about the separate agreements of Israel with each Arab state, then even of an agreement strictly between Israel and Egypt. Now they are already talking about the partial withdrawal of Israeli forces as a temporary solution which would make possible the opening of the Suez Canal. That temporary solution, Comrade Kardelj noticed, could possibly become the final solution. Israel is already talking about keeping Sharm-al-Sheik and the eastern part of Sinai. Egypt cannot accept that, just like it cannot accept giving up of any of its territories. The only thing that remains then is the military solution. That is what Sadat told the Soviet leadership and asked them to make it clear whether they are ready or not to deliver special modern armaments to Egypt without which they cannot effectively oppose Israel.

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It is silly to claim, he told them, that these are secret, because those same secrets are being sold in the western markets. He told them that he will be forced to seek other sources if Soviets continue to be hesitant with the deliveries of the modern armaments. Regarding this, he also told them that King Faisal of Saudi Arabia has already given him 40 “Lightning” airplanes and that he is ready to deliver a high number of French produced tanks with the most contemporary electronic equipment. It is interesting, Sadat noted, that the Russians offered the license to produce the MIG 21 MF after they heard about the delivery of “Lightnings” from King Faisal. The offer was accepted, but it does not solve the basic problem. MIG 21 MF's are great planes, but they are superb intercepting planes and Egyptians need most hunter-bombers, which would shake up the Israeli confidence based on their ownership of Phantoms. That is why Sadat is considering the possibility of accepting, via Libya, the British license for the production of the “Jaguar” hunter-bomber, which is part of the British-French production. Together with the license, the British would deliver also an additional 50 Jaguars. These are supersonic airplanes with modern equipment and are capable of long flights carrying up to 5 tons of bombs. The knowledge that Egyptians are willing to fight Israel for their goals would undoubtedly have an effect on Israeli self-confidence and stubbornness, because it is widely known that Israel cannot allow for any more destruction and especially no more losses of life. Therefore, it is the intention

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of Egypt, to secure the modern hunter-bombers soon, and to rely ever more on its own forces by using the foreign license, both Soviet and others.

President Tito supported such orientation. He said that in 1948 we were under exceptionally difficult circumstances and we sought to increase the production of our own armaments, which was shown to be completely justified. He emphasized that our military production has already reached a relatively high level of development. Comrade President mentioned the possibility of widening Yugoslav-Egyptian cooperation on the military field. Without getting into details, he suggested that a delegation of Egyptian military experts should make a visit to Yugoslavia so that they can, face to face, learn about the possibilities and make deals with Yugoslav experts on the eventual concrete arrangements.

Comrade President was interested in the relations of Egypt with other Arab states and Sadat spoke about that. He said that relations with Syria are excellent. The two governments have the same political positions, and the two armies are under the united command. They have very good relations with Libya. Gaddafi was recently in Aswan. During that visit, they agreed on tighter cooperation in industrial production and gaining foreign licenses. Egypt has industrial capability, while Libya has capital, and together they can achieve many things that are in their mutual interest. The production

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of “Jaguars” according to the British license was one of the most important, but also not their only mutual undertaking. They also anticipated, for example, the construction of the united commercial fleet. Here, they are also counting on the Yugoslav cooperation because the possibilities and respectability of Yugoslav shipbuilding is well known to them. The payments would not represent a problem. Libya would be paying for it all in hard currency. If Yugoslavia is interested in receiving Libyan oil, something can also be arranged.

Comrade President said that the cooperation in the field of shipbuilding would certainly be possible and desirable. He highlighted the enviable success that our shipbuilding industry has had in the past few years. He mentioned the construction of five tankers of 250,000 tons in Pula shipyard. He expressed his conviction that there would be no problems regarding the conclusion of mutually satisfactory arrangements for the building of Egyptian-Libyan ships in our shipyards.

Sadat thanked him. He continued his presentation on the relations of Egypt with other Arab states, and said that the relations with Sudan are pretty good. They are also good with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and Sadat is a personal friend of their rulers and knows that he can surely count on their support in the case of conflict with Israel. The delivery of “Lightning” planes speaks of that as well as the promised delivery of French tanks from King Faisal. Currently, there is also a group of Egyptian pilots being trained in Saudi Arabia.

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The relations with Algeria and Iraq are, however, tense because of the extreme and irrational politics of their governments, according to Sadat. He cannot count on Morocco and Tunisia because they do not understand the problem with Israel. Jordanian King Hussein has sold out to the Americans. After all, the facts speak for themselves, and Israel is holding only two regiments along the 500-kilometer-long Jordanian-Israeli border.

How are Syrian armaments? – Comrade President asked.

Weak, Sadat answered. Syria has created a large army of 250,000 people, which was not necessary and it did not provide adequate armaments. To make it worse, Syria's airports are completely unprotected. That is the reason why Sadat is not keeping even a part of his air fleet in Syria. That is a pity, because he could use Syrian airports to bomb Israel even with “Sukhoi” airplanes, which can be used for very little anyway. Unlike Syria, and because of what they learned during the June war (1967), Egyptians have completely secured their airports and main facilities in the country with modern antiaircraft batteries and SAM 1, 2, and 3 missiles.

Comrade President was then interested in the situation in Egypt itself. Sadat said that the political situation after the changes that were completed in May of last year, the situation as a whole is good. However, it is indisputable that there is a feeling of discontent and disappointment due to the delay in finding a solution and the continuation of the occupation of the Arab territories. In that light

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we need also look at the recent student protests. Most of the students are disoriented, so they are deceived by the slogans. Among the slogans that were prominent during the recent demonstrations were many of the extreme left variety and Maoist calls, including calls to the “cultural revolution”. After the talks with President Sadat, the situation at the University has calmed down. There are still sporadic incidents, but they are not finding much support. Sadat has openly told the students that he cannot accept their demands because they come from incomplete knowledge of the real situation and they do not take responsibility for the destiny of the country. He also told them that internal disunity in the current situation could only benefit Israel.

Economic situation in itself is good, but there is a worry because of the decrease in necessary investments. The investments are already down 10 per cent, and the rising military spending will require a decrease by another 10 per cent.

As far as the immediate tasks are concerned, Sadat emphasized that in the next six months, due to the Soviet demand not to take any military action before Nixon's visit to Moscow, they will be devoted to strengthening the internal fronts and preparing the population for war. They will work on organizing the food supplies and electric energy supplies in case Israel renders incapable one or more of the Egyptian damns – and Egypt has 10 of them in total. It is the intention of Egypt in the subsequent period to work on its own forces as the best guarantee of returning its legitimate rights. Soviet help is still needed and they

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still count on it, but it is a fact that the Soviets are difficult, untrustworthy and slow in making decisions, to which the “triangle” system surely contributes.

President Tito thanked him on this open talk and information. Comrade Kardelj then informed President Sadat about the situation in our country, recent instances of nationalism, their sources and organizers, measures taken and still taking to remove them and the positive results that have already been achieved.

At the end, President Tito invited President Sadat to officially visit Yugoslavia. The invitation was with content accepted by Sadat. President Sadat expressed his hope that he will be able to visit Yugoslavia in the spring, and most likely in April. He would also bring his family in order to combine this official visit with a few vacation days.

Notes submitted by:
Lijana Tamabaca