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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 06, 1972

MINUTES OF CONVERSATION OF THE SEPERATE DISCUSSION BETWEEN NICOLAE CEAUSESCU AND ANWAR EL-SADAT, IN CAIRO, 6 APRIL 1972 [EXCERPTS]

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    Nicolae Ceausescu and Anwar El-Sadat discuss Egypt's relations with Israel and the new boundaries of Israeli and Arab lands.
    "Minutes of Conversation of the Seperate Discussion between Nicolae Ceausescu and Anwar El-Sadat, in Cairo, 6 April 1972 [Excerpts]," April 06, 1972, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANIC, C.C. al P.C.R., Sectia Relatii Externe, dosar 19/1972, pp. 45-56. Obtained and translated by Mircea Munteanu. First published in CWIHP Bulletin 16 (Fall 2007/Winter 2008): 542-543. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/219913
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Minutes of Conversation

of the separate discussion between […] Nicolae Ceausescu

and […] Anwar El-Sadat, in Cairo, 6 April 1972. Sergiu Celac,

acting director in the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

translated.

Nicolae Ceausescu: I’ll ask you that this time the conversation be carried out in English.

Anwar El-Sadat: Very well.

Ceausescu: We just held a short press conference. Of course, the central issue was the situation in the Middle East.

Sadat: Of course; that’s the way it should be.

Ceausescu: I’d like to refer to some issues that we discussed last time, and in the second part, to inform you of the discussion we had yesterday with the representatives of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, with Arafat and another two.

Sadat: Very well.

Ceausescu: Of course, we’ll see what issues my friend, the president, would like to bring up. I thought about the issues we discussed. I now understand better the concerns that you have, the Egyptian government and people have for finding a solution to the crisis in the Middle East in the shortest possible time. I explained a series of concerns that we have, and I will come back to them. However, I want to stress once again that, in my opinion, it is difficult to see a military solution. This is why I believe that finding a political situation must be the principal concern at the moment. That is why, in my opinion, it is necessary to find a way to allow other countries, which want to help find a solution to the war, to do so and help more on this issue.

Sadat: Very true.

Ceausescu: It is necessary to act in such a way as to convince Israel to adopt a more rational position and give up the rigid position is had today.

Sadat: Very well.

Ceausescu: I believe it is necessary to act more forcefully to combat any tendencies to annex territory. This suggests a more intense diplomatic activity from other countries as well.

Of course, for this to happen, Egypt and the other Arab countries should first request such help. I will tell you, honestly, I am under the impression that, presently, the world public opinion and a slew of international forces are not fully aware [sesizate concret] of the Middle East situation. This gives Israel, and especially the reactionary circles in Israel, the possibility to make all sorts of maneuvers. Honestly, I tell you this also applies to some reactionary Arab circles.

Sadat: Very true.

Ceausescu: This makes the policies of the imperialist countries, including the US, easier.

Sadat: True!

Ceausescu: Starting from these considerations, I think it is necessary for you to elaborate a program of specific activities for the intensification of political and diplomatic actions, so a political solution to the conflict can be found soon. This would force Israel, [also] other reactionary circles, to reveal their positions and intentions, could lead to better revealing the progressive forces in the Arab countries, and, in the end, would offer the forces in the socialist countries, of other countries as well, of the international progressive movement, the opportunity to act resolutely in support of this issue.

Sadat: Very well.

Ceausescu: The example of Vietnam is very clear here. Of course, you have to take this step. I just wanted to tell you a few thoughts I had as I considered our discussions.

Sadat: I am in full accord!

Ceausescu: In my opinion, there are favorable conditions to do more, and with better results. As I told you last time, we are ready to do everything in our power.

Sadat: Very well!

Ceausescu: It is clear that Israel would like to find out the conclusions we reached [here]. We will inform them, we’ll tell them our opinion.

Sadat: Very well.

Ceausescu: You can always count on us that we’ll do everything in our power to help with your struggle. I want to mention again that, aside from all this, that the idea of secret negotiations should not be excluded [from the start]; if not for now, at least [sometime] in the future.

Sadat: That’s true, very well.

Ceausescu: This is what I wanted to tell my dear friend, President Sadat.

Sadat: I have full faith in you! We have the same principles—we [support] non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, we are non-aligned, we want to build our country based on the will of our people. We have the same opinions on all issues discussed.

Personally, I have a great deal of admiration for President Ceausescu, and I wanted very much to meet you. I wanted to meet you personally, like [I did] President Tito, and to have a sincere, open discussion, like the one right now.

I want to tell my friend that I am ready to adopt any daring decision. I don’t want to be the leader of the Arab world; I don’t have any such personal ambitions. I clearly stated that I am ready to sign a peace treaty and recognize Israel. Not one Arab leader has dared to do so in the past 22 years. What is worse is that once I made this decision, in front of the Arab world and in front of my people, and after I obtained [the people’s] approval for it, there was no reaction from Israel, with the exception of the declarations in the Knesset that they will never withdraw to the 4 June [1967] borders. This thing they presented as a principle of their policy. I said it, I don’t seek to impose myself as the leader of the Arab world, I don’t seek anything for myself. I seek, before all else, the good of my country.

If Israel, through your good offices, as a friend in which I have full confidence, and in which I know they too have full confidence, will tell us clearly what they want, then it will be good. I don’t want to get in the same situation in which King Hussein is in now. He talked with Israel. And what was the result? They dropped him! Recently, Madam Meir, talking to some students, said some things that will finish King Hussein. And that after he did everything they wanted him to do. I repeat, I don’t seek anything for myself. But, if I can do something for my country, then I am ready. I don’t seek anything for my own personal prestige. I am ready to take any decision.

I agree with my friend, the President, that a political solution is very difficult. That’s what I said yesterday as well, that I am for peace, because I want what’s good for my country. But peace is not only dependent on my actions. The other side must also seriously consider this thing. I am ready to walk this way, but it must be a just peace. I said this in front of the entire Arab world: I will recognize Israel and its borders, but not the new Arab territories it obtained after the invasion. This was said for the first time in the last 22 years. I said in front of the entire world that they will be allowed to use the Gulf of Aqaba. I am ready to give them guarantees in this respect, and if my guarantees are not sufficient, I am ready to accept that some UN forces be stationed at Sharm el-Sheikh. I made this statement and did not redact it in any way.

If they want this—great! But no one will ever agree to relinquish even a centimeter of Arab land. Believe me! No matter what some Arab leaders might say, the people will never accept [that]. You work with your people. I work with mine. We both know what the power of the people means. As I told my dear friend, I am ready to take any daring decision on the condition that it benefits the country. My person does not matter. But I do not want to end up as King Hussein, completely cut off from the Arab world.

Ceausescu: If I understand correctly, my friend Sadat considers it possible, however, that at some point, a meeting between representatives of Egypt and Israel will take place, under conditions that will have to be settled. (Sadat nods in agreement.) I agree that, for certain steps to be taken there must be full guarantees. This issue is so serious that rushing might ruin it. You can be sure that I will not say these things until I am convinced that all necessary conditions are ripe.

Sadat: Very well.

Ceausescu: I will not tell Israel that you are ready, until I will be convinced that they are serious about it. I will talk with them myself, and, if I reach this conclusion, I will make the next step.

Sadat: I fully agree with this way of proceeding.

Ceausescu: In this context, I will send my personal representative [Deputy Foreign Minister George Macovescu]. Probably it will be the same representative that had, in the past, contacts with President Nasser.

Sadat: Very well. I know him.

Ceausescu: If something develops, you can send someone to me. I will receive them.

Sadat: Very well. I will do so.

Ceausescu: If there are serious problems, a flight between Bucharest and Cairo only lasts four hours; even three with a good plane. […]

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