WASHINGTON (Apr. 30)
President Carter indicated today that he would continue to press the Soviet Union for the release of dissidents and Jewish activists, such as Anatoly Shcharansky, who are still in prison. "We have not forgotten other human rights activists in the Soviet Union who are being punished or imprisoned," he said in answer to a question at a White House press conference.
Carter said he had personally approved the agreement last week whereby five Soviet dissidents were released from prison in exchange for two Soviet spies held in the U.S. He said the names were agreed upon after long negotiations and he felt the exchange was "fair."
In response to an earlier question, Carter said he would like to see both the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China receive most-favored-nation trade benefits "if it can be done in compliance with existing law." This was obviously a reference to the Jackson-Vanik Amendment which requires improved emigration procedures before the benefits can be granted to a Communist country.
Carter also called upon Israel to "severely restrict" all new settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip whether they are officially approved by the Knesset or established unofficially by groups within Israel. He said the Israeli government knows well the U.S. position, which is that such settlements are "inconsistent with International law" and an "obstacle to peace." He said Israel interprets the law differently and there is "a limit to what we can do with a sovereign nation." (By David Friedman)