President Carter called a meeting at the White House last night to discuss the administration's position on Rhodesia, in the wake of controversial remarks by United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young.
The President decided to return from Plains, Ga., earlier than scheduled, for a meeting with Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance, national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Young, who has just returned from a 10-day trip to Africa.
Administration sources acknowledged yesterday that comments made by Young, in which he proposed a different U.S. approach to the blackwhite conflict in Rhodesia, have created "a problem" over who is speaking for American policy.
Young said in Nigeria last week that the United States should join African nations and Rhodesia's black nationalists in making new proposals to the white rulers of Rhodesia and South Africa for achieving black majority rule in Rhodesia. When Young left London for New York on Saturday, he criticized former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger for putting the "burden on Britain's back" for the Geneva conference on Rhodesia, which is in recess and stalemated. The Carter administration has been supporting that leading role for Britain.
Administration sources said the White House meeting last night was necessary because the President will be busy today with his first official head of state guest, Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo, while Vance is due to leave Washington tonight for his first trip abroad as secretary, to the Middle East.
Yesterday morning in Plains, Carter told reporters he thought Young's remark that Kissinger had "abandoned" the British in arranging the Geneva conference had been taken out of context. Carter said he did not think that "Andy said it in a critical way."
Because of last year's presidential election, Carter said, former President Ford and Kissinger "could not proceed as vigorously" with U.S. policy in Africa as they might have wanted to.
Some of the world's "trouble spots went into limbo" during the election and many world leaders simply awaited a new President's taking office, Carter said. That situation was "no reflection on Secretary Kissinger or President Ford," he added.
The President said Young told him by telephone Saturday night he considered his 10-day trip a success.
Carter also disclosed that he would cut out some frills when Lopez Portillo comes to visit. "We'll recognize the foreign leader in the proper form," Carter said, but he does not want ruffles and flourishes and "Hail to the Chief" played "for me."
During his first visit to Plains since he was inaugurated three weeks ago, the President chatted with hometown folks and said he and his wife, Rosalynn, "walked on the soil of our farms."