Plains, Georgia Exchange With Reporters at Carters Warehouse.
REPORTER. There's encouraging news out of the Middle East this morning. Any comment on the reports of the PLO?
THE PRESIDENT. No. We don't know yet what's going to happen until I get a complete report from Cy Vance--I get a message from him every night and then a briefing every morning. If the Palestinians will recognize the applicability of the United Nations Resolution 242, then it would open up a new opportunity for us to start discussions with them and also open up an avenue that they might participate in the Geneva conference. But whether they'll do that, we don't know yet.
Q. If indeed they do recognize 242, wouldn't that more or less assure that the Geneva conference will indeed begin?
THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question because there might be other obstacles to it. But I think I can be able to answer that question when Secretary Vance gets back. He's now decided, I think, to double back and have a second conversation with some of the leaders in the Middle East. So, this might be an encouraging sign.
Q. He would go back to the other Arab countries again?
THE PRESIDENT. Either go back or have additional conversations with them before he leaves the Middle East. And he's going to stay over in London an extra day to talk to President Nyerere about Rhodesia and Namibia. So, I think things look better than they did. I hope we can work something out on the Palestinians. That is the biggest obstacle right now.
Q. We always ask you about the adverse developments. We give you a chance to talk about a positive development for a change. [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much.
Q. What about prospects for a Geneva conference in October? Still good?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'd say they are about the same as they were. The biggest obstacle that we've detected, of course, is whether or not the Palestinians would participate in the discussions. And our position has been that until the Palestinians and their leaders recognize Israel's right to exist that we would not have conversations with them ourselves.
So, if the Palestinians do adopt as a basis for the discussions the United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338, then that would certainly make it easier for them to go----
Q. Have we had any contact with the Palestinians formally--informally to indicate their position?
THE PRESIDENT. I think a better word would be "indirectly." We've not had any direct conversations with them. But, of course, they are sending us messages through the Syrians and the Saudi Arabians, the Jordanians and the Egyptians.
So, we have a means to contact them and to exchange ideas with them indirectly. But we are not going to meet with the Palestinian leaders as long as they are committed to the destruction of Israel.
Q. What were they saying, indirectly?
THE PRESIDENT. That they may adopt U.N. Resolution 242, which does recognize Israel's right to exist permanently and in peace with secure borders.
The thing that has made the Palestinians reluctant to do this is, at the time 242 was passed, it only referred to Palestinians as refugees. And if the Palestinians should say, "We recognize U.N. Resolution 242 in its entirety, but we think the Palestinians have additional status other than just refugees," that would suit us okay.
Q. Anything on your schedule today-softball again, maybe?
THE PRESIDENT. Maybe. I don't know yet.
Q. I don't know if we're up to it or not.
Q. How are you feeling?
THE PRESIDENT. I feel fine. Billy is in pretty bad shape this morning. [Laughter]
Q. You're not stiff?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I'm not stiff.
Q. We could tell you privately, perhaps, how he said he feels. [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. I'll probably go to the farm later on today.
REPORTER. Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: The exchange began at 9:10 a.m.
Jimmy Carter, Plains, Georgia Exchange With Reporters at Carters Warehouse. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243836