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Plains, Georgia Informal Exchange With Reporters Following a Visit With Allie Smith.

December 25, 1978

Q. How was your Christmas?

THE PRESIDENT. Our Christmas has been very good. We hope everyone in our country had as good a Christmas as we've had. We've been with our families and with our friends, and we've got peace on Earth right now. We hope we can keep it that way. And we just wish everyone, on behalf of the First Family, a very wonderful holiday season. And I'm sorry all of you can't be with your folks, too.

Q. Mr. President, we haven't really had a chance to talk with you since the SALT negotiations broke up in Geneva. Can you give us any reading on that? What does it look like? Does it seem that the Russians are sort of holding back until they see how the summit by the Chinese leaders here goes?

THE PRESIDENT. We don't know what the Soviets' motivations are. I talked to Secretary Vance yesterday afternoon after he got back home, and he was encouraged with the meetings with the Soviets and also thought that the Israelis and the Egyptians had a good, solid discussion. And it was constructive; he felt very pleased with it. I think we will have a peace treaty for the Middle East, and I think we will have a SALT agreement with the Soviets. It just takes time. The complications of all the issues are not easily resolved. But I still feel hopeful, and I and Secretary Vance both agree that we're not discouraged at all.

Q. Are you still looking at a date in mid-January, or has that been put back?

THE PRESIDENT. My guess is that it's been put back some, but we don't have a definite period. The differences on the SALT agreement have been narrowed considerably in the last week. There are still a couple of issues that will be discussed and resolved, as Secretary Vance announced, through diplomatic channels and through the regular negotiating teams. But I don't foresee any need for another Foreign Ministers meeting, and I think that we have an excellent chance of a fairly early meeting between myself and President Brezhnev. My guess is, though, that it will not be in January. We would be ready in January if the Soviets are.

Q. Have the differences on the encoding and verification been ironed out, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Parts of those have been ironed out. I think it might be better to let Secretary Vance give you a specific rundown later on on the remaining issues, because they are still under negotiation. And we've had, I think, a fairly well honored agreement with the Soviets that we won't discuss specific issues through the press; we'll let that be done through more private means.

Q. What about your Christmas? What did you get, Mr. President? People would like to know.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I got some books, and I got a camera, a small camera that I can carry in my pocket, one like I took down the river. And we had all our family together. We got a lot of clothes, got some running outfits when I get recuperated from my physical injury enough to use it. [Laughter]

Q. What are you carrying in your hand, what book?

THE PRESIDENT. This is "101 Famous Poems." But we've had a good Christmas.

Q. How are you feeling?

THE PRESIDENT. Much better. I took it easy yesterday, and I think that speeded my recuperation.

Q. Are you going quail hunting?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I'm going to go quail hunting. I can't stand the thought of jumping over those terraces in a jeep right this minute. [Laughter]

REPORTERS. Merry Christmas to you.

Note: The exchange began at 9:25 a.m. outside the home of Allie Smith, Mrs. Carter's mother.

Jimmy Carter, Plains, Georgia Informal Exchange With Reporters Following a Visit With Allie Smith. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244375

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