THURMONT, Md (Sep. 11)
The Middle East summit conference was officially described today as having entered “more intensive” discussions but there were no indications of how long it will last or what the final outcome may be.
At his press briefing this aftemoon, the sixth day of the Camp David meetings, White House Press Secretary Jody Powell reported that over the past weekend all three delegations were engaged in “a rather detailed analysis of where we stand. ” He said “We now have a period of renewed efforts in a more intense and detailed fashion to see if approaches can be made on the substantial differences and to refine the areas of progress.”
Powell announced that President Carter met with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt for two hours this morning at the President’s headquarters in Aspen Lodge and that the Egyptian and American delegations will be meeting this evening on the ministerial level. Meanwhile, each delegation is holding meetings of its own. Powell did not know if there would be any formal American-Israeli contact today but noted that the American and Israeli delegations had considerable time together yesterday.
Asked if the absence of a trilateral meeting between Carter, Sadat and Israeli Premier Menachem Begin was a sign of stalemate, Powell replied, “No. It is not appropriate to draw the conclusion of a stalemate. In a period of normal course of discussions there are periods when it is more useful to hold bilaterals followed by trilaterals.” But he acknowledged that “substantial differences still remain.”
Asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency if he had any statement indicating optimism over the final result of the summit, Powell replied that he had basically attempted to provide information last week when there was “perhaps an excessive air of optimism pervading the press room.” He said “there is simply no basis at this point in informed speculation on the ultimate outcome.”
NO TIME LIMIT ON CONFERENCE
Powell steadfastly refused to set a time limit on the summit meeting, stressing that there is “no informed basis” to speculate on when the conference will end. There was some talk here today that it might continue beyond next weekend. Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, who chatted with reporters during yesterday’s visit by the Israeli and Egyptian delegations to Gettsburg, Pa., said “We will need another two to three more days for this to crystalize.”
Powell said, in reply to questions, that the delegations have not made any decision on a joint communique when the conference ends. Asked if Carter will tell the American public of any commitments by the U.S. to any course of action that might emerge from the summit, Powell said that “in general terms, the President most likely would report to the people and the Congress within a reasonably short time, what has gone on and what has not gone on.”
Asked if he wanted to leave an impression that Carter will not give a full report on all agreements in which he engages, Powell said “We could have a situation–tentative in nature–in which one of the principals would go back to discuss the situation in his own country.” But, he added, “there is no chance at all that any agreement reached would not be fully disclosed at the appropriate time.”
Asked if President Carter has made any of the constructive proposals he said he would make from time to time to bridge the gaps between the Israelis and Egyptians, Powell said the President has “been an active participant virtually from the beginning” of the conference. But he would not say whether or not he has made any suggestions. Asked if the Egyptians were becoming impatient over the slow movement of the conference, Powell replied, “Not so far as I know. I suppose any delegation could hope things were moving faster.”
On a lighter note, Powell disclosed that when Carter was escorting Begin to his lodge after the Israeli Premier’s arrival at Camp David last Tuesday, the President remarked, “If we wrap it up by noon” the next day “we could take a week’s vacation and no one would be the wiser.” This did not happen.
REFLECTIONS ON THE SUMMIT TALKS
In the absence of substantive news from Camp David, some leading members of Congress offered comments yesterday on the network television panel interviews. Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D. Wash.) said on NBC’s “Meet The Press, ” “I think it is very slaw moving.” He cited “a pretty good source” that the Egyptians have not received the assurances they are seeking.
Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd (D. W. Va.) said on the ABC “Issues and Answers” program that he had “modest expectations” for the outcome of the summit meetings. Rep. James Wright (D. Tex.), the House Majority Leader, said on the CBS “Face the Nation” program that Israel had to be “more flexible.” But, he added, Israel cannot be expected to return entirely to its 1967 borders and should keep outposts on “high ground” on the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
In an interview on the Israel Army Radio in Jerusalem today, Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the World Zionist Organization Executive-American Section, predicted that the summit would conclude with a positive statement that may surprise many. She said she was confident that, in any case, the U.S. would not try to impose its ideas on any of the parties concerned and was “acting as an honest broker.” Mrs. Jacobson was one of a group of American Jewish leaders who met with top Administration officials in Washington shortly before the summit meetings began.