THURMONT, Md. (Sep. 6)
In their first joint message issued from the Camp David summit conference today, President Carter, Premier Menachem Begin of Israel, and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt invoked “the God of our fathers” for “guidance” and called on “people of all faiths to pray with us that peace and justice may result from these deliberations.”
The text of the brief statement was released to the 400 journalists from all over the world assembled in the American Legion hall here early this afternoon for the first briefing by Presidential Press Secretary Jody Powell. Powell disclosed that Begin and Sadat had greeted each other informally at a “chance meeting” while both were strolling on the Camp David grounds today.
Carter, Begin and Sadat were due to hold their first private meeting together at the President’s headquarters at Aspen Lodge later this afternoon. Only the three principals are to be present. Powell announced that separate meetings on the ministerial level, each lasting one hour, were held this morning, first between the Americans and Egyptians and later the Americans and Israelis.
He said that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance informed him that further ministerial level meetings would take place this afternoon but he did not know if the Israelis and Egyptians would meet together or separately with the Americans. Vice President Walter Mondale, who flew in from Washington this morning, arrived in time to attend the meeting with the Israelis.
MESSAGE INSPIRED BY CARTER
Powell said that today’s joint message was inspired by Carter at his meeting with Begin last night and with Sadat this morning. Both meetings lasted about two hours. The message said: “After four wars, despite vast human effort, the Holy Land has not yet enjoyed the blessings of peace. Conscious of the grave issues that face us, we place our trust in the God of our fathers from whom we seek wisdom and guidance. As we meet here at Camp David, we ask people of all faiths to pray with us that peace and justice may result from these deliberations.”
Powell declined to characterize the mood at Camp David during the first full day of the summit meeting. “It is best not to engage in temperature-taking at arbitrary times,” he said. He noted that the Begin-Sadat “chance meeting” occurred at about 12:15 p.m. He said they shook hands, “exchanged greetings and pleasantries” and complimented each other on their appearance.
Powell said the encounter lasted 2-3 minutes and, at the end, Israeli Defense Minister. Ezer Weizman rode up on a bicycle and greeted the two leaders. Although the “chance meeting” was recorded by a photographer, Powell assured the reporters that “this was not a conspiracy.” He said it was “not at all unusual” for an official photographer to be on hand.
SEPARATE TABLES, SEPARATE LODGES
Powell said that the Israeli and Egyptian delegations each dined separately at their respective lodges but that some Israelis and Egyptians had mingled after dinner. He said the delegates wore jackets and ties at dinner last night but dressed informally for breakfast. Premier Begin’s wife, Aliza, was due at Camp David this evening. She had been attending a family wedding in Toronto.
It was learned, meanwhile, that some of the 33 Egyptian journalists covering the Camp David talks did not show up at the Holiday Inn at Hagerstown, Md., some 20 miles from Thurmont where they and a number of Israeli journalists had been booked. An Egyptian newsman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that his colleagues preferred to commute from Washington, 60 miles away.
At Camp David the Israeli and Egyptian delegations are housed in separate lodges approximately 150 yards apart and roughly equidistant from Aspen Lodge where Carter and his principal advisors are staying. The Egyptians are in Dogwood Lodge and the Israelis at Birch Lodge. All are named for trees native to this region.
Carter has urged the Israeli and Egyptian delegations to make full use of Camp David’s ample recreational facilities, which include swimming, bowling, skeet shooting, tennis, movies and hiking through wooded mountain trails. Carter himself took off on a bicycle last night along forest paths.