February 26, 1979 – An uneasy day during an uneasy week. The Middle East Peace negotiations were faltering, moving ahead, faltering, balking and inching forward. On this day, it was Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin who threatened to back out, unless Egyptian President Anwar Sadat came to the conference. President Carter invited Begin to attend the Camp David conference, which was already going on, between Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Egyptian Prime Minister Khalil, but Sadat wasn’t going to attend. The exclusion of Sadat brought a hefty “no” from Begin, but Begin was willing to fly to Washington to speak directly to Carter. According to Israeli reports, no progress was made between Dayan and Khalil, with Dayan charging that Egypt was making its position more extreme. And sources close to Begin said that was the reason for his rejection of the invitation, not that Sadat chose to stay away. White House Press Secretary Jody Powell said there was no comment from Carter over this latest flap.
Meanwhile, after much turmoil and confusion, Iran announced it was getting ready to export oil again in the coming week. With an open-market asking price of between $18-20.00 a barrel, which was well above the $13.85 a barrel OPEC set as the going price. However, Kuwait followed suit and quickly raised its price to $14.55 a barrel. Both countries were OPEC members, and observers were of the opinion OPEC was about to boost its price for a barrel of crude. The White House was readying a plan for gas-rationing over the coming months amid reports that some countries were raising their prices to as much as $28.00 a barrel.
And then there was the developing situation between Vietnam and The People’s Republic of China. News of clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese troops prompted Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping to scoff at reports Chinese incursion attempts were being thwarted by a superior Vietnamese Army, but did say China was angered by news that the Soviets were supplying military supplies to Vietnamese troops. Deng went on to say that Chinese military action was limited and wouldn’t last a very long time, but he fixed no date as to when he thought the war was going to end. Deng went on to say it was China’s sole purpose to explode the myth over Vietnam’s supposed military might. Deng was quoted as saying the Myth of Vietnamese military invincability was no long reliable, but he produced no military details to back up that claim. Deng called Vietnam the “Cuba of The Orient”, implying that both Cuba and Vietnam had become emboldened in recent months by support from “outside forces” (i.e. Moscow). The news from Vietnam prompted the U.S. State Department to say “whatever it is, we don’t like it” with reference to the ongoing military action, and sent that message to Beijing.
And that’s just a little of what went on, this February 26, 1979 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup and The World Tonight.