WASHINGTON (Dec. 28)
Sen. Birch Bayh (D. Ind.), who ended a week’s visit to Israel yesterday, said today he is “convinced there is an excellent chance for a peace settlement.” Bayh, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he met with Israeli Premier Menachem Begin just prior to his departure last night and Begin gave him a positive assessment of his meetings in Ismailia with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
“From everything I have observed both in discussions with public officials and private citizens, I am convinced there is an excellent chance for a peace settlement,” Bayh said, according to a statement released by his office here. “The long-sought process of serious negotiations has now begun.”
The Senator cautioned that “peace will not come swiftly nor solely from the important, dramatic gestures of the last several days. Peace will come through serious step-by-step resolution of the longstanding differences. Mostly importantly, peace will come because of an overwhelming desire on the part of both Israelis and Egyptians.”
Bayh left Israel for Morocco where he plans to meet with King Hassan II.
CARTER READY TO MEET WITH ASSAD
Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Thomas Reston said today that the Syrians were aware of President Carter’s readiness to meet with Syrian President Hafez Assad during his overseas trip which starts tomorrow. Reston added “we have been in touch” constantly with the Syrians but that he was not authorized to elaborate. Reston cited Carter’s comment in Plains, Ga. That it would “suit him fine” if arrangements could be made for the President to meet with Assad.
Reston confirmed reports that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance will join Carter on the President’s overseas trip. Reston also said Vance probably would attend the Israeli-Egyptian ministerial negotiating committee session in Jerusalem in January but that he did not know exactly when and for how long.
In another development, Reston read a prepared statement in response to a reporter’s questions about an article in the Literary Gazette of Moscow which charged that foreigners, presumably Americans, were agitating in favor of Anatoly Shcharansky, the Jewish activist facing trial on charges of treason.
“We have not yet seen the full text of the article,” the statement noted. “Based on the Tass account, however, it appears that the article is directed more at the many expressions of concern in the West about the case and does not say anything new about charges being brought against Mr. Shcharansky. It apparently avoids any comment on his guilt or innocence. We have made our views clearly known on this case in the past and have no further comment.”