THURMONT, Md. (Sep. 10)
President Carter, Premier Menachem Begin of Israel and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt appear to have made progress “in some areas” but “substantial differences” remained in others as the Camp David summit meeting approached the end of its first week. A statement to that effect, approved by the three principals, was read to reporters here late yesterday by Presidential Press Secretary Jody Powell.
He said, “Progress does seem to have been made in some areas. However, substantial differences remain on other important issues. There is simply no basis at this point for any informed speculation on the final outcome of this summit meeting.”
Replying to reporters’ questions, Powell said: “I frankly want to warn you from looking at this as a process in which we just stack the pieces up. Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple. It is not an unreasonable assessment,” he added, to presume that the “progress which seems to have been made on some issues may be dependent upon additional progress on other issues.”
This morning, Carter, Begin and Sadat left Camp David on a 25-mile drive to Gettysburg, Pa. to visit the historic Civil War battlefield. The trip was made at Begin’s request. The Israeli leader is an American history buff and an admirer of Abraham Lincoln. Although there was no official suspension of the Camp David talks over the weekend, the three days were devoted largely to recreation and religious observances.
The Egyptian delegation observed the Moslem Sabbath on Friday. Begin and his wife Aliza conducted an Oneg Shabbat Friday evening for the Israeli delegation. In an unexpected development, President and Mrs. Carter joined the Begins for the Sabbath meal Friday evening. It was the first time the President dined with either of the principals.
SUMMIT TO CONTINUE THROUGH WEEK
The summit meeting is expected to last well into this week. That estimate by correspondents here is based on a report from an American source that Vice President Walter Mondale told his staff in Washington that the conference would continue through next Thursday. Mondale is handling much of the Presidential affairs at the White House while Carter is at Camp David.
Powell said in his news briefing Friday that he has seen “no signs that I’m aware of” that the summit would end Monday. He also emphatically denied news reports here and abroad that Begin had proposed a moratorium on future Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Powell said the report, carried by the Hearst newspapers, was “at best, uninformed speculation.”
In response to reports by American sources Friday that “progress” was being made toward a Mi least settlement, Powell declined to use that would and told reporters that they should “use their own best judgment” on what is happening. He would say only that “key issues” are being negotiated and that the principals are engaged in “serious discussions” on the issues they face.
Powell said in reply to questions that Carter is “certainly participating actively in the discussions” and that the President “had contributions to make.” But Powell warned the media to “steer away” from believing that Carter has made suggestions in “a formal sense.” He reminded reporters that if the President felt he could make “suggestions in an informal sense he would make them.”
NEWS BLACKOUT TERMED BENEFICIAL
Asked about the blackout on substantive news from the summit, Powell said that he and his Israeli and Egyptian counterparts “all agree it has produced a constructive and healthful atmosphere at Camp David.” Begin’s press spokesman, Dan Patir said he was “very satisfied from the point of view of Israel” with that aspect of the summit conference.
Military aspects at the summit were indicated by the presence of Defense Secretary Harold Brown who participated in a two-hour American-Egyptian conference with Sadat and Carter late Thursday night. On Friday morning, Brown joined Mondale, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski at a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman. Carter met separately with Brown, Vance and Brzezinski for an hour Friday.
(In Vatican City, Pope John Paul I, for the second time since last Wednesday, appealed to the world to join his prayers for success at Camp David. He told 50,000 cheering pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square that Carter, Begin and Sadat were working for peace in the Mideast. “All people are hungry and thirsty for peace, especially the poor who always have to suffer and pay most in turbulences and wars, “he said.)