WASHINGTON (Oct. 31)
Carter Administration spokesmen said today that neither President Carter nor Secretary of State Cyrus Vance plan to meet with Premier Menachem Begin when he visits the U.S. this week. Begin will arrive in New York tomorrow and will be in the U.S. for about a week before starting an official visit to Canada.
White House Press Secretary Jody Powell told reporters this morning that “there is no particular reason for the heads of government to meet at this point.” He said a report that Begin had asked for a meeting with Carter “is incorrect.”
(This was confirmed in Jerusalem today by Yehiel Kadishai, chief of the Prime Minister’s Office, who said that Begin had not requested a meeting with Carter. He was responding to reports that a meeting had been arranged between the two leaders but that Carter cancelled it because of the Israeli Cabinet’s decision to strengthen Jewish settlements on the West Bank.)
At the State Department today, chief spokesman Hodding Carter said “I have nothing to offer at this time” about a possible meeting between Vance and Begin. Asked when the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty might be ready for signing, Carter said he could not provide a projection of a date.
In another development today, the Pentagon confirmed that a high-level American military team that is preparing to go to Egypt and Israel to study the military requirements of both countries from the U.S. has postponed its trip. No reason was given. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Tom Ross said the mission, headed by David E. McGiffert, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, has been put off for the time being.
Both Ross and Hodding Carter denied that the postponement of the McGiffert mission was a signal of displeasure by the Carter Administration with Israel’s policy on the West Bank settlements. Carter said the postponement is not a form of pressure on Israel, adding, “We won’t use our military supply relationship with Israel as a means of pressure on Israel, political or otherwise.”