reaganThe Reagan Administration expects that its talks with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who will be in Washington tomorrow afternoon, will center largely on economic matters and bilateral issues between Egypt and the United States.

A senior State Department official, who briefed reporters today, said he did not believe much time would be devoted to the Camp David peace process, including the autonomy issue, because Secretary of State Alexander Haig has just returned from Egypt and Israel where that issue was thoroughly discussed.

However, the official stressed that this does not mean the U.S. is “downplaying” the autonomy talks. He said he expected they would be No. 1 or No. 2 on the agenda when Mubarak meets with President Reagan Wednesday morning.

Mubarak, who is coming here at the invitation of Reagan which was given to him at the funeral of President Anwar Sadat last October, will meet with Reagan after formal welcoming ceremonies at the White House Wednesday morning and again at a White House State dinner that night. It will be Mubarak’s first meeting with Reagan as President of Egypt. They met early last year when Mubarak visited Washington as Egypt’s Vice President.

Explains Low Profile on Autonomy Issue

In explaining why not much time will be devoted to the autonomy issue, the State Department official said that Haig, during his visits to Egypt and Israel last week and two weeks before that, had spent more than 30 hours discussing autonomy with the leaders of both countries.

He said on Haig’s visits to Jerusalem and Cairo last week he had gotten down to the “nitty-gritty” of the issues dividing Israel and Egypt. He said the Secretary did not offer any American proposals but outlined the Egyptian and Israeli positions and sought to get the two sides to move closer.

The official said Haig found that it was “not too promising” that an understanding on autonomy could be reached by the April 25-26 date when Israel is scheduled to complete its withdrawal from Sinai. But, he noted, the April date is not a deadline for reaching agreement on autonomy.

Israel and Egypt “adhere strictly” to the Camp David process, the official stressed. He said this included the efforts to reach an agreement on autonomy for the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He said both countries have promised to continue their efforts.

The official said that Richard Fairbanks, former Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, who accompanied Haig on his trip to Egypt and Israel last week, would be going back to the region in the “not too distant future.” The official would not confirm that Fairbanks will be special envoy for Middle Eastern affairs, indicating that when his duties are officially announced they will encompass more than the Middle East.

On economic issues, the official said that Mubarak, while adhering to Sadat’s policies, is determined to demonstrate that he is “his own man” and has a “different leadership style.” He said Mubarak has placed “highest priority” on solving Egypt’s domestic problems. In addition to Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali, Mubarak is accompanied by two Egyptian government economic officials. An Egyptian economic groups has been meeting with Reagan Administration officials here since last week.

The State Department official conceded to a questioner that Egypt is seeking “parity” with Israel in U.S. military and economic assistance. However, he noted that Egypt this year is receiving $1 billion in economic aid as compared to $800 million in economic grants to Israel. In military assistance, Israel’s annual package is $1.4 billion while Egypt is getting $900 million.

The official would not reveal what the Administration proposes for the two countries in the 1983 fiscal year since this will not be made public until Reagan presents his budget to Congress next week. It is reliably believed that the Administration will ask for another $400 million in military assistance for Egypt and $300 million in military aid for Israel above what they are receiving this year.

Egypt Balks at ‘Client State’ Status

The official noted that Egypt’s military plant has deteriorated because much of the Soviet equipment is obsolete. He said for this reason, the U.S. understands that Egypt has been seeking arms from other countries, such as the People’s Republic of China and Western European countries.

He said Egypt does not want to be perceived as “a client state” of the U.S. For that reason, he explained, the U.S. is not concerned about Mubarak’s recent decision to allow Soviet technicians to return to Egypt because Egypt wants to have relationships and communications with both superpowers. He added that Egypt wants to have its relationship with the U.S. in a “proper balance.”

On other issues, the official said the situation in Lebanon will also be discussed during Mubarak’s visit here. He stressed that Israel has been “scrupulous” in its observance of the cease-fire on the Lebanese border.

Mubarak will have a busy schedule here before leaving late Friday night. On Wednesday, after his meeting at the White House, he will have a working lunch with Haig at the State Department. On Thursday, the Egyptian President will meet with Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and have lunch with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He will meet later with the House Foreign Affairs Committee and with Treasury Secretary Donald Regan.

Mubarak will meet with American businessmen and Jewish leaders on Friday and will deliver a major address at the National Press Club on the same day.