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    Assassinated leader's wife urges peace

    Jehan Sadat of Egypt says that resolving the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is essential.

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 22, 2003

    ST. PETERSBURG -- As missiles and bombs pummeled Baghdad on Friday, Jehan Sadat, widow of assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, had a message of peace.

    "I am so sad with what is going on" in Iraq, she said at a symposium of the Women's Council of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

    "My heart is aching for the men, women and children who will be wounded or lose their lives," she said at the event, held in the Coliseum.

    Nonetheless, Mrs. Sadat said, war sometimes is required in order to exact peace. Her late husband's "most heart-wrenching" decision was to order Egyptian troops into the Sinai in 1973, she said.

    He later joined talks with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Helped by President Jimmy Carter, the two signed the Camp David accords in 1979, ending more than 30 years of hostilities between Egypt and Israel.

    Assassins murdered Sadat in 1981. Before and since, Jehan Sadat has been committed to world peace efforts and improving the status of women.

    "If (Saddam Hussein's) regime is gone, it would be much better for the Iraqi people," she said.

    She said she hopes for a quick end to the conflict and for democracy throughout the Middle East, but said there will be no peace in the area until Palestine has its own state and hostilities cease between Palestine and Israel.

    Mrs. Sadat is a senior fellow and professor at the University of Maryland in the Center for International Development and Conflict Management. She has homes in Virginia and Cairo. The Jehan Sadat Peace Award was established in her honor in 1985.

    Egyptians "have lived in the shadow of war, fanaticism and terrorism for decades," she said. "I believe, as my husband believed, in peace. My husband died, but his legacy will never die."

    Sue Brody, president and chief executive officer of Bayfront Medical Center, was named Business Woman of the Year. Yate Cutliff, a lawyer who has been active in efforts for economic and social development in Midtown and southern St. Petersburg, is Community Service Woman of the Year.

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