NEW YORK (Nov. 2)
President Carter and Premier Menachem Begin of Israel had an unscheduled meeting here this afternoon, arranged, according to a U.S. official, at the President’s initiative. The invitation was conveyed to Begin by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance at their meeting in Begin’s Regency Hotel suite here this morning. (See late story P. 3.)
The U.S. official said the meeting was intended to quash reports of a Presidential snub of the Israeli leader which persisted despite firm denials by the Administration and by Begin himself who said earlier that he had not requested a meeting with Carter.
Begin met with the President, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the home of Arthur Krim, a prominent Jewish businessman active in the Democratic Party. Carter, who was in New York today campaigning for Democratic candidates in next Tuesday’s elections, was visiting Krim on party fundraising matters and invited Begin to join him there.
Begin and Vance met for two hours and 20 minutes this morning. On emerging from the session, both declared that the meeting had been “good” and that progress was made concerning the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty currently being negotiated in Washington. Vance told reporters, “We made real progress.” He said he would meet with the Egyptian delegation when he returns to Washington this afternoon. Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, who participated in the Vance-Begin meeting, returned to Washington this afternoon to resume negotiations.
Begin agreed with the Secretary of State that “it was a very good meeting.” He said he hoped that a date will be set soon for signing the peace treaty although there are still problems to solve. He repeated, in reply to questions, that he did not feel at all that he was “snubbed” by Carter.
A GIFT FROM CARTER TO BEGIN
The meeting between Begin and Vance reportedly dealt with the current Israeli-Egyptian peace negotiations in Washington, the issue of linkage between the treaty and the Camp David framework dealing with the problems of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and U.S. economic aid to Israel after its withdrawal from Sinai.
The State Department’s chief spokesman, Hodding Carter, who accompanied Vance, told reporters when the meeting started that it was not expected to wrap up the negotiations in Washington and produce a peace treaty. “You can’t walk out of here with a treaty,” he said.
Vance brought Begin a gift from Carter. It was a photograph of a new asteroid discovered at the Palomar Observatory in California while the Camp David summit conference was in session in September. The photo was inscribed “To Menachem Begin from Jimmy Carter.”