President Carter said yesterday he sees no danger that present "tough and public debates" with the Soviet Union mean the end of attempts to reduce tensions between Washington and Moscow.
The Soviet Union is "exaggerating the disagreements," perhaps for "some political reasons." Carter told his news conference. He said Soviet public statements "attacking me personally, or our own nation's good faith are both erromeous and ill-advised."
What is taking place between the United States and the Soviet Union is not the destruction of detente, the President said. lstead, he said, "we are finally addressing in a forceful way, from different perspectives, some extremely controversial but important issues."
". . . lt is inherent that tough and public debates will accrue when controversial issues are addressed," Carter said. He mantained that this is not an indication of "deteriorated relationships," but instead of a "period of debate, disagreement, probing and negotiation" that "was inevitable."
"And l have no apologies to offer and l have no regrets about the issues that have been raised that have proven to be controversial," Carter said firmly.
The President also chose to emphasize the positive said of clouded prospects for Arab - lsraeli diplomatic progress. He said. "l have seen an inclination in the Middle East in recent days toward an alleviation of tensions."
Carter announced that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat "is returning with full military honors 19 lsraeli bodies that have been left in Egypt." Sadat also informed him in a private message, Carter said, that Eygpt is withdrawing what Carter called "a (See CARTER, A14, Col. 1)(CARTER, From A1)few extra troops" in the Sinai desert, and "is going to make very effort again to comply with the (Egyptian-lsraeli) Sinai agreement" on limitation of military forces.
American officials said the 19 bodies to be returned by Egypt to lsrael are reported to be the remains of lsraeli troops killed in the 1973 Arab-lsrael war and recently discovered on the east bank of the Suez Canal.
The Sinai agreement the President cited established a demilitarized zone that limits opposing troops, with a United Nations force and American-manned observation posts, between them. About a month ago, lsrael protested that Egyptian army maneuvers in the Sinai brought in troops in excess of agreed limitations.
Carter also said that lsrael's new prime minister, Menachem Begin, who arrives here next week for a critical round of talks,"is trying to bring with him an open mind, and an ability to go to a possible peace conference with all items being negotiable." The Carter Begin talks, nevertheless, are expected to be especially difficult, with Begin less flexible than any of his predecessors.
The President today welcomes West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, whose nation is extremely sensitive to the state of U.S. Soviet relations and the current strain on East-West detente.
West Germany's particular concern is that the emigration of Germans from Eastern European Communist countries can damaged through Soviet retaliation to the Carter administration's aggressive championing of human rights.
Carter's vigorous defense yesterday of his policy reflected, in somewhat milder form, a private counter campaign by the administration during the past two weeks against intense Soviet charges that Carter policy is jeopardizing East-West detente.
Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhev in Paris last month made U.S. policy the prime target of Soviet complaints in East-West relations. The Soviet press has been charging that the Carter administration is returning to "the old policy of American imperialism." personally singled out President Carter for recurring attack.
Although the President said yesterday that "l believe that the Soviets perhaps have some political reasons for spelling out or exaggerating the differences," he added that, "l don't know what those reasons are."
High administration officials, however, in private have suggested multiple reasons. One reason cited by them is that the Soviet Union is trying to portray the United States as "odd man out," in hopes of driving a wedge among the western allies. The Soviets portray the Carter administration as erratic, unpredictable, and drifting back toward the cold war era.
The basic administration contention is that the Soviet union is indignant over what it sees as a new reach by the Carter administration for greater U.S. influence in the world.Carter strategists in private do not dispute that; they proclaim it, as a revival of American activism after the slough of Vietnam and Watergate.
Part of that theme was implicit in Carter's remarks yesterday. The objective, however, he said, is not one-sided, but it is "to work with the Soviet Union" for "increased friendship . . . a redustion in nuclear weaponry, and easing of tensions" through "calm and persistent and fair negotiations" that will "address some questions that in the past have been avoided or delayed."