WASHINGTON (Jan. 31)
Presidential press secretary Jody Powell said that President Canter and Chinese Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-Ping spent more time on the Middle East than on any other regional topic at -their White House conference yesterday.
Responding to a question by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at a news briefing, Powell said that “basically” the President reported to Teng on the situation as he saw it” in the Middle East and in “general terms” on the recent mission there of special ambassador Alfred Atherton.
Powell indicated that the two leaders discussed what they Know of the Middle East problem, their understanding of the leaders, the available options and the activities taking place there. Powell declined to say if the President perceived a wider or different role for China in the Middle East.
Powell also said that “all speculation about another summit conference on the Middle East is decided premature.” He noted that Carter has stated that he would “not hesitate” to call another meeting between himself, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Premier Menachem Begin of Israel under appropriate circumstances. But “those circumstances don’t exist at present, Powell said.
He asserted today that Carter would not participate in another summit conference until he is convinced that both Egypt and Israel have shown greater flexibility. The requisite pre-conditions flexibility by both sides, do not exist at this point, he said in reviewing the failure of the latest effort by the U.S. to end the stalemate in the peace talks. Powell noted that another summit would only raise false hopes and waste the time of Carter, Begin and Sadat unless flexibility was shown.
At the State Department, chief spokesman Hodding Carter cautioned reporters yesterday that “there are other possibilities” than a presidential summit or a ministerial summit on the Middle East. “I don’t want to suggest these are the only two ways we can go,” he said. “There are more than just two boxes possible for the future.”