WASHINGTON (Jan. 8)
The State Department confirmed today that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance has received a letter from Egyptian Prime Minister Mustapha Khali containing Egypt’s views on the resumption of peace treaty negotiations with Israel. But the Department’s chief spokesman, Hodding Carter, declined to discuss the substance of the letter at today’s news briefing.
“The possible ways that it (the resumption of peace talks) might be done are simply up in the air…. No decisions have been mode on how to proceed nor have we made any proposals,” Carter said. “I have no way to predict what will happen at this point.” He added, however, “we are reflecting on it” (the Egyptian letter) and we will be in touch with the Israeli government about it. We will also be in consultation between the parties in the next few days about possible next steps in the negotiating process. We still do not have anything for you or what the next step will be.”
(In Jerusalem last-night, a spokesman for Premier Menachem Begin told reporters that Begin had informed a group of seven visiting U.S. Congressmen that he thought the negotiations would resume in the next week or two but did not indicate where they might be held. Begin was quoted as saying “We are ready to resume the talks at any time.”)
Hodding Carter said today that “over the past several days we have had the impression that Prime Minister Khalil and President (Anwar) Sadat have indicated their willingness to continue their conversations and you can assume they are making the same points privately.” He said “the letter from Khalil to Vance dealt with both substance and procedure, adding, “We are trying to proceed on this matter now that we have the letter on hand….We are trying to get the negotiating process going again.”
A State Department official said in that connection, “I think what we are trying to do is get the negotiations on substance going but I cannot say that is absolutely the way that is going to come out.” Carter said he did not know of any deadline having been set. “It would be a great surprise to me” if Vance announces details of an Israeli-Egyptian meeting at the press conference he has scheduled for Thursday morning, Carter said, but added, “I won’t say that it won’t happen.”
JAVITS URGES NEW SUMMIT MEETING
Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R.NY) called on President Carter today to convene a new summit meeting between Israel and Egypt “to finish the negotiations embodied in the Camp David accords and to sign a treaty.” Javits stressed that “the volatile and critical situation in Iran makes even more essential an Israel-Egypt agreement in order to counterbalance the effect on the whole area of the turmoil in Iran.”
Javits declared in a statement issued this morning. “The time has come for a major new effort by President Carter to consummate the work of Camp David. The nearly completed negotiations for the Israel-Egypt peace treaty have been left dangling in the four weeks that have passed since Secretary (of State Cyrus) Vance’s last trip to the Mideast.” He said action is “all the more urgent in view of the situation in Iran with its inherent danger to the world’s oil supply and to the stability of the other states in the Persian Gulf area.”
Therefore, the Senator said, “I believe if we are to get action now, when it is so urgently needed, that President Carter should invite Prime Minister Begin of Israel and President Sadat of Egypt to the White House, asking them each to come with plenipotentiary authority to finish the negotiations embodied in the Camp David accords and to sign a treaty.