Visit of Prime Minister Begin of Israel Remarks to Reporters Following the Prime Minister's Departure
REPORTER. Mr. President, how did this morning's talks go?
THE PRESIDENT. They went very well. The Prime Minister is going to have a press conference later on today, but I don't think the meetings with him could have been any better, and I believe that we've laid the groundwork now, barring some unforeseen difficulty, that will lead to the Geneva conferences in October.
Secretary Vance will be leaving the 1st of August to visit the Arab countries and also will visit Israel. And we believe that based on my past discussions with Arab leaders, and their desires, that the positions taken by Prime Minister Begin will lead to a convening of the Geneva conference.
Q. You once said there was no use to go to Geneva if it was not going to succeed. What are its chances of success?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, that's difficult to predict. Obviously there are still strong matters and differences that have to be resolved between the Arab and Israeli leaders. But we've not found any of them to be so adamant in their positions that they are not eager for accommodation. I think they all see that the transcendent goal is peace. They've all agreed that the basis for the negotiations themselves will be United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338.
They see that permanent peace is a requisite for accommodation, the definition of what will be done, and that territorial adjustments must be made.
There are obviously differences in how these territory questions should be resolved, and they all recognize the difficulty of the Palestinian question. But they're all eager to meet now. I believe I can say that accurately. And we see the convening of a Geneva conference as being very likely, the format of it, the participation them. And although there are strong differences between the Arab and Israeli leaders on territories and the Palestinian question, they want to work it out.
THE PRESIDENT. I just cannot answer that question. I doubt it, though. I think that can be answered better by the Prime Minister.
Q. But they will negotiate on the West Bank?
THE PRESIDENT. I'll let the parties get down to the details of it.
Q. But you do think that.
THE PRESIDENT. That will certainly be one of the items on the agenda.
Q. [Inaudible]--on the territorial and Palestinian questions?
THE PRESIDENT. We didn't try to resolve those differences. I think it's inappropriate to try to draw lines or draw a map or decide on details at this point.
Those positions that will be put forward by the Arab and Israeli leaders at the Geneva conference are best left to them, because, obviously, strong differences of opinion--[inaudible]--any delineation of boundaries.
Q. Did you modify any of your well known public views?
THE PRESIDENT. I'll stick to my public views, but I think now is the time to be quiet about specifics, and I think that this is a strong desire of Prime Minister Begin. And I think the recent comments and actions by the Arab leaders indicate that they feel the same way.
Q. Is there any significance to his leaving a little earlier than was planned?
THE PRESIDENT. We just had such an unexpectedly harmonious session this morning that we didn't find any reason for arguments.
THE PRESIDENT. No.
Q. How did you find Mr. Begin as a personality to deal with?
THE PRESIDENT. I like him very much. As I said in my welcoming remarks, he's a man of courage and principle, and I have found in my discussions with him that my assessment was quite accurate.
Q. Is he easy to get along with?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Note: The President spoke at 10:47 a.m. on the South Grounds of the White House.
The transcript of the remarks was made available by the White House Press Office. It was not issued in the form of a White House press release.
Jimmy Carter, Visit of Prime Minister Begin of Israel Remarks to Reporters Following the Prime Minister's Departure Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243284