The Carter administration took issue yesterday with press reports that the United States had miscalculated in submitting its strategic arms limitation plan, to the Soviet Union.
Presidential press secretary Jody Powell telephoned Associated Press reporter Richard E. Meyer at 6:15 a.m. with a statement that "we flatly deny any implication that the administration, including the Secretary of State, made significant miscalculations that played any rold in the initial Soviet rejection of the American proposals." Meyer said Powell was "angry."
Meyer's report, published in Monday's Washington Post, said that Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance, in an impromptu press conference Sunday, declined to rule out U.S. miscalculations as a reason for the Soviet rejection of the U.S. proposals.
A tape recording of the press session held in the Rose Garden of the White House, shows that Vance was asked, "Do you feel the United States made any miscalculations at all in preparing for these talks?" After a slight pause, a chuckle was heard and Vance replied: "No one can say that one never make any miscalculations. I think we proceeded in a fair and appropriate way. I hope that in the long run, people will see that that's the fact."
Yesterday Vance told reporters he had not meant to imply that the United States miscalculated. His press spokesman, Hodding Carter, denounced the AP story, the inferences drawn from it and the Post headline and displays as "totally erroneous." He said Vance's remark Sunday was "a statement of the obvious about human beings" rather than a substantive comment on the possible miscalculations in the U.S. position.
Both the White House and State Department press spokesmen also quarreled with reports late last week, from journalists accompanying Vance abroad, quoting some U.S. officials as criticizing the Carter administration's arms proposals. Powell characterized the stories as "inaccurate accounts based on a misinformed source."
State Department spokesman Carter reiterated that talks with Soviet officials will continue on the issue, and the United States hopes and intends to have a new agreement before the present SALT understanding expires in October, he said.