Summit Confab Still a Cliffhanger: Conference May End Monday
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Summit Confab Still a Cliffhanger: Conference May End Monday

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The Middle East summit conference at Camp David moved into what appeared to be its last day with no sign by early evening of what the ultimate result may be. Presidential Press Secretary Jody Powell distributed a written notice to the media shortly after 1 p.m. announcing that President Carter met with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt for 45 minutes this morning and “expects to meet with Premier (Menachem) Begin (of Israel) this afternoon. We will have additional information later this afternoon,” the notice said. By early this evening reporters were still waiting for additional information.

The written notice also said “This morning, intensive consultations within and among the three delegations continued. President Carter met with the American delegation before attending church services.” The announcement disclosed that Carter met with Sadat at the latter’s quarters in Dogwood Lodge rather than in the President’s quarters in Aspen Lodge.

Carter met privately with Sadat for 2-1/2 hours last night and, after a short break, held a 4-1/2 hour conference with Begin. There were no signs, however, that either Sadat or Begin have changed their positions. Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman met with Sadat at about mid-day today and the Israeli and Egyptian delegations reportedly met this afternoon. It was not known at what level the two delegations met or how long the Sadat-Weizman meeting lasted. Carter met with Begin for six minutes this afternoon and seven minutes later went into a meeting with Sadat. The brief meeting with Begin was at the latter’s quarters in Birch Lodge.

Powell did not appear for his regular 1 p.m. press briefing here today. He was quoted by an associate as saying that “things are moving along” and suggested that reporters stand by and “don’t get lost in the countryside.” Later, another associate announced that Powell would not appear to brief the press until later this afternoon at the earliest. “You can watch the football games,” he told reporters. The official notice of the delayed briefing was circulated a short time later.


These developments puzzled seasoned observers here but little credence was put in the many theories circulating. Some observers believe there is a possibility that the latest obstacle to an announcement from Camp David was the language of a statement rather than the substance of an agreement.

In an interview with Israel Radio this morning, Begin’s press spokesman, Dan Patir, gave no indication of the status of the Camp David talks. But he suggested that the American news media was being too optimistic and the Egyptian media too pessimistic. “The process is continuing and that itself is a hopeful sign,” he said.

In a sudden and surprise development, the White House announced here yesterday that a decision had been reached to end the summit meeting today though as of the time of the announcement the United States, Israel and Egypt had not reached the summit goal of agreement on intended guidelines for peace talks. Powell, briefing newsmen here, said the move to end the summit was proposed by Carter Friday and accepted by Sadat and Begin. Powell also said one or more documents would be issued at the end of the summit.


Meanwhile, Egyptian media and Egyptian diplomatic sources were building up a propaganda campaign that should the summit talks end in failure, it will be the fault of Begin. The Cairo press was declaring that Sadat has done all he can to bring about agreement. There was no indication, however, that Sadat has veered an iota from his pre-summit position that Israel must withdraw completely from all territories it occupied in the Six-Day War and allow the Palestinian Arabs to establish a state of their own under the term “Palestinian self-determination.”

To achieve this goal, it was indicated in the Cairo press, according to information received here, Sadat will go to Washington after the conference and tell key members of Congress that Begin is using the American Jewish community to block an agreement in the Middle East.

It was announced in New York, meanwhile, that Begin will address a delegate assembly of representatives of all American Jewish organizations and communities Wednesday morning. The meeting will be sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The time and Place have not yet been set.

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