Following is an excerpted text of President Carter's news conference:
The President: I have a brief statement to make and then I will respond to questions.
I think that in this first four months in cooperation between Congress and the President has been very good. We have had a productive session so far. We have, however, one potential problem that is evolving that causes me some concern. There is a high degree of fiscal budget deficit that has been a problem for many years.
Since 1974, we have had $184 billion of federal deficit. And the prospective deficit for fiscal year 1978, starting next September, is about $60 billion . . .
The main concern at this point on the economic scene is the rate of inflation which is tied directly to the degree of responsibility of the federal government in handling excessive spening . . .
The farm bill as passed by the Senate, has a very high cost, much greater than I think is necessary, much greater that the House has passed. Expenditures conceived for water projects amount to about $3 1/2 million more in total cost that I have advocated.
The House has tentatively approved the appropriations committee adding about a dozen other projects with a total cost of almost a half billion dollars.
We advocated, as have all the presidents since Eishenhower, the elimination of impacted aid for very wealthy communities where military installations exists, $3 1/2 million.
The Congress so far has decided not to eliminate this very costly project. I say this not in criticism of the Congress because no decision has yet been made, but to point out to American people a potential problem. I respect the Congress and I will work day and night to reach an agreeable solution to these potential threats to harmony. But I have to reserve the right and the duty to say no when spending is excessive.
Q: Mr. President, will you tell us where you would like to go from here on SALT with particular reference to cruise and Backfire, and how do you assess the upbeat words we got from Secretary Vance in Geneva and the downbeat words we got from Foreign Minister Gromyko on the same?
A: Compared to the Moscow meeting, the Geneva meeting was very upbeat. There was a great deal of harmony there. There was a sensitive effort on the part of the Soviets and ourselves to explore conflicting positions and to seek for some framework on which we could agree.
There are three basic elements, I think, of a SALT II agreement. One is an agreement that would last throught 1985, ratifying in effect those elements from Vladivostok on which agreement was reached without dispute, and hopefully encompassing significant reductions below the Vladivostok levels.
Secomd would be a protocol, in addition to the basic agreement, that would last for a briefer period of time, two or three years, in which temporarily solutions to the controversial issues might be included, giving us more bargaining time. This would include the very heavy missiles of the Soviets which causes great concern. It would include some constraints on the cruise missiles. And the overall agreement would also include some constraints on the Backfire Bomber.
The third element of the agreement, which we hope to achieve, would be a mutual commitmemt in writing to pursue the drastic substantial reductions which we advocated as an alternative in Moscow, leading toward a much more comprehensive, much more effective, much more needed SALT III agreement.
So I think there are substantial remaining differences between ourselves and the Soviet Union. No firm proposals were put forward on either side. It was an exploratory meeting. But the tenor of the meeting, the obvious attitude of the Soviets toward being willing to assess our positions and to modify their own, I think was reciprocated by us, and in that way it was an upbear meeting as described by Secretary Vance.
Q. Why did you fire General Singlaub? He claims that the officers there have never been given a rationable on withdrawal. And have you had any soundings from North Korea as to the possibility of improving relations?
A. Well, in the first place, General Singlaub was not fired. General Singlaub was informed that he was being fired; he was not being chastised or punished. He was being transferred to a new position at an equivalent degree of responsibility and stature.
We have, however, considered very carefully the question of our troops to be withdrawn from South Korea, the Republic of Korea, ground troops. This is a matter that has been considered by our government for years. We have been in South Korea now more than 25 years. There has never been a policy of our government evolved for permanent placement of ground troops in South Korea.
In 1970 and 1971, a full division of troops was withdrawn. Many leaders of our country and in the Republic of Korea have advocated complete removal of ground troops from Korea.
Melvin Laird, a former Republic Secretary of Defense, is one of those. President Park himself, the President of the Republic of Korea, has called for the removal completely of American troops.
The essence of the question is, is our country committed on a permanent basis to keep troops in South Korea even if they are not needed to maintain the stability of that peninsula? I think it is accurate to say that the time has come for a very careful, very orderly withdrawal over a period of four or five years of ground troops, leaving intact an adequate degree of strength in the Republic of Korea to withstand any foreseeable attack and making it clear to the North Koreans, the Chinese, the Soviets, that our commitment to South Korea is undeviating and is staunch.
We will leave there adequate intelligence forces, observation forces, air forces, naval forces, and a firm, open commitment to our defense treaty, so there need not be any doubt about potential adversaries concerning our support of South Korea.
I think it is accurate to point out that overall strategic considerations have changed since the 1940s and early 1950s, when the Korean question came into most prominence in the international scene. The relationship between the Soviet Union and us, the People's Republic of China and us, and the relationship between the People's Republic and the Soviet Union has all changed, among other things. . .
We have also a complete confidence in the deep purpose of the South Koreans to defend their own country. Compared to the North Koreans, they have a two to one advantage in total population. They have much greater access to the Western industralized democracies for advanced equipment and for technology.
So for all of these reasons, I think it is appropriate now for us to withdraw those troops.A decision has been made. President Park has been informed. And we will work very closely with the South Koreans for an orderly transition, leaving the ground troops of the Republic of Korea strong enough to defend themselves and leaving our own commitment to them sure. . .
Q. Mr. President, to follow up your opening statement, does that mean that you are putting Congress on notice that if they pass the appropriations bill with the water projects and with the impact aid, and if they pass the higher farm price supports, that you will veto those measures?
A. I would rather wait until I see the final form of those bills. As you know, some of these measures have gone throug appropriations committees, some have not. I don't think any of them yet have been approached in final form, but in the conference committes, on the floor votes, I will get a clearer picture of what Congres' intention might be, but I certainly reserve the right to veto bills if I think they are excessive . . .
Q. Mr. President, on March 19, you talked about the idea of Israel withdrawing to her '67 borders, with only minor adjustments. Is that still your position, and is there any way that Israel could retain the West Bank of the Jordan and make that fit in the definition of "minor adjustments"?
A. That is still my position, although I might add again that the United States, including myself as President, we do not have a Middle Eastern settlementplan, but the basic premises have been spelled out very clearly.
In the United Nations resolutions that have been passed, coming from the Security Council, voted on and supported by our government, and these have been binding policies of the government, they do include the right of the Palestinians to have a homeland, to be compensated for losses that they have suffered. They do include the withdrawal of Israel from occupied territories from the 1967 war, and they do include an end of belligerency and a re-establishment of permanent and secure borders.
All of these things have been spelled out in writing in those United Nations positions which we have endorsed and every administration since they were passed.
I would certainly assume that withdrawal from West Bank territories, either partially or in their entirety, would be a part of an ultimate settlement but that is something that has to be worked out still between the Israelis and their neighbors. . .
Q. Mr. President, to follow up on the Middle East, Mr. President, could you give us more of your thinking on the disposition of places like the Golan Heights which we talked about during the campaign, the question of Jerusalem, and other areas like that? And can you say how your proposal for minor alteration differs from the 1969 American plan calling for substantial alteration?
A. No, I can't respond to those specific things. I think it would be inappropriate for me to try to draw a line on the map in the Golan Heights or the West Bank of Jerusalem or the Sinai Peninsula. That is something that would have to be negotiated between the parties involved. . .
Q. Mr. President, I would like to go back to General Singlaub and your transfer of him. How do you square that with the calims of your administration that it is an open administration where dissent is encouraged? Isn't there a double standard between your treatment of him and treatment of Andrew Young, the United Nations ambassador, and who has dissentedfrom American policy and has not yet been transfered?
A. I know of no instance that Andy Young has violated a policy you described. In the case of General Singlaub, as I said earlier, he was not punished. We evolved the policyfor South Korea over a long number of years. And I finally made a decision after consultation with the intelligence community, the military leaders, a formal meeting of the National Security Council, that we would withdraw our ground troops over a period of four or five years.
A member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Bernie Rogers, went to South Korea to meet with our own military leaders and some of the South Korean military leaders, as well. Our policy was explained, General Staglaub was one of those.
An announcement was made that a representative of the State Department, Phil Habib, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Brown, would go to Korea to explain this policy to the Korean officials and also, of course, to the American military officials.
After that annoucement was made is when General Singlaub made a comment publicly that if this policy was carried out, it would result in war. In my opinion, that was a very serious breach of the propriety that ought to exist among military officers after a policy has been made, and I think to some degree it was an invitation to the North Koreans to believe that South Korea was not able to take care of themselves, which they are. I think it was invitation to the world to expect an inevitable war.
And I certainly don't agree that there is any cause for a war to be expected.
In addition to that, I think it is important to remember that we are now in the process of carrying out this policy. And I don't believe that General Singlaub, being our negotiator with the North Koreans, by the way, and also being the third person in command in Souht Korea, could have effectively carried out this policy when he had publicly been identified as being opposed to it.
The other point is I think his presence in South Korea on a continuing basis would have been a disturbing factor. He would have been the focus of admiration and attention from those who do not want to carry out our policy. I think it would have made it very difficult for his superiors to carry out the responsibility in harmony and cooperation with the South Korean government.
Q. Mr. President, some people have expressed concern about former presidents making millions of dollars by in effect selling the presidency, television interviews and memoirs. What are your own intentions as to what you will do after you complete your term or terms?
A. I can't answer that question yet. I might say what I have done so far. I wrote a book in the winter of 1975 called "Why Not the Best" which has now sold several million copies. Any receipts that have come in from that book since the end of May last year have not come to me or my family in any way. They have been put into a spectal reserve fund to finane a future library to hold the papers that might be derived from my own administration.
Shortly, there will be another book published of excerpts from my speeches since the time I became governor of Georgia. That book has been given in its entirety to the public use, not to have any money from its use come to me or my family.
I think that this is a policy that I would like to pursue after I go out of office. I don't know what my financial circumstances might be then. I might find a need on occassion to derive some financial benefit from writing or from appearances of some kind.
So, I can't close the door completely to what I will do after I am out of this office, but I can describe to you what I have already done voluntarily to make sure that there is no financial reward coming to me because I happen to be in the White House or even after the primary season was over, because I was a prominent political figure. I don't want to benefit financially from this status.
Q. Mr. President, your SALT II proposals calling for deeper cuts in the Vladivostok agreement were rejected by the Soviet Union after you had enunciated them publicly.
Q. And your public statements with respect to a Palestinian homeland are being credited as being a factor in the election of a conservative hard line political group in Israel.
Do you think that you are going to be able to continue your policy of open discussions of foreign policy issues and, at the same time, achieve agreements? In other words, do you think you are going to be able to have your cake and eat it, too?
A. I don't agree with the premise of your question. I do not believe that my open espousal of a desire on the part of the American people to reduce the number of missile launchers or atomic weapons prior to the time we negotiated in Moscow was a reason for a breakdown in that discussion.
It has led to continuing discussions and I believe it is a viable policy that I will pursue and I see no reason why the American people should not know it and I believe that overwhelmingly the American people support it.
I think it is good for the American people to know what our positions are at the time that the Soviets know what our positions are, and vice versa.
This is a matter that must be addressed openly. It involves not only the Soviet and American people, but it also involves our allies and friends who depend upon us around the world.
In the campaign itself and in my inaugural address I expressed a hope which I still have, that ultimately myself or my successor, Mr. Brezhnev, or his successor, can arrive at a point where nuclear weapons are eliminated completely from the Soviet and the American arsenals.
The other point of your question was concerning the results of the elections in Israel. I think that the international questions in Israel were very slightly discussed or debated during that campaign. My opinion is that the result of the elections were not affected appreciably if at all by any statements that I make concerning an ultimate Middle Eastern settlement.
Our positions are compatible with the positions taken by my own predecessors and in fact historically the United States has espoused these basic principles. And I think this is something that must be addressed frankly by the prospective government in Israel, by the people of Israel, their Arab neighbors, and by the people in the United States.
So I don't intend to refrain from expressing very clearly my position on foreign issues to the public and on occasion, when negotiations are going on, or when we have an agreement with our negotiating partners to refrain from public statements, of course I will do so. But that will be an individual judgement to be made. . .
Q. Realizing that the Israeli government is not in place yet, but assuming that Mr. Begin will have a dominant role in it, and based on his initial remarks about withdrawal of the sector, do you see him as a potential obstacle to the peace process?
A. No, I don't.
I don't yet have any way to know who will put the government together. Obviously Mr. Begin leads the Likud government which came in first. And we are waiting now for Israeli election results to be confirmed and for the President of Israel to designate the leader of that party to put together that government. Before that time and before the government is completely evolved, I intend to congratulate Mr. Begin, if it is he, and to invite him or whoever is his designate to come over here for discussions withe me.
There obviously are difficulties caused by a change in the Israeli government. But in the long run, as in the case in our own country and in a democracy like Israel, the government leaders fairly accurately reflect the hopes and desires and fears and purposes of the people whom they are chosen to lead.
Mr. Begin will have to put together a government. He will have to deal with conflicting interests as he forms his cabinet and brings in other groups to make sure that he has a majority in the Knesset.
So I don't look at this as an insuperable obstacle. It does create a question. I think a large part of that question can be resolved when I meet with him personally and when he meets with the congressional leaders and the Jewish Americans who are very deeply interested in this and sees the purpose of our own country.
I think this may have an effect on him. I have already seen some moderation in his views as he has dealt with Mr. Yadin and others. I hope that this moderation will continue.
Obviously, the Arab leaders also have to be moderate. Some of the adamants stands they have taken in the historical past will have to be abandoned. If they didn't, there would be no hope for peace.
So both sides of this, or rather all sides of this discussion have to yield to some degree to accomplish the purposes of their own people.