President Carter has rescheduled a scaled-down version of his once-delayed foreign trip for Dec. 29, White House officials confirmed yesterday.
Carter will leave Washington that day and fly directly to Warsaw, where he is expected to be the first American President to hold a full-scale news conference in a Communist country.
The trip over the New Year's holiday will also take the President to Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, France, and Belgium, ending in Brussels about Jan. 7.
White House press secretary JodyPowell said an official announcement of the trip details will be made later this week.
Carter originally had planned to leave Washington Nov. 22, and, in one of the most ambitious journeys ever by an American President, was to visit nine countries on four continents in 11 days. But about two weeks before he was to leave the President postponed the trip, saying he was needed in Washington to work with congress on the administration's pending energy legislation.
Dropped in the truncated version of Carter's intinerary were planned stops in Venezuela, Brazil and Nigeria. However, the President is expected to visit those countries, and possibly others in the Third World, in the spring.
Carter told congressional leaders yesterday that he intends to go through with the reschedules version of the trip even if Congress has not completed work on the energy legislation by Dec. 29.
The President's comment to the congressional leaders appears to signal a change in attitude on the importance of remaining in Washington through the final energy debates. But Powell denied this, saying that "nothing would be served by postponing it again."
In fact, however, this trip that is yet to be made has been something of an embarrassment for Carter so far. Conceived largely by the President and his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the original version of the journey was critized as being little more than an 11-days endurance test.
While the postponement of the trip served briefly to dramatize the importance Carter attaches to the energy legislation, little progress appears to have been made toward passing the legislation during the period the President was to have overseas. Congress was in recess much of the time, delaying several crucial decisions on the legislation until about the time Carter was to have returned to Washington.
Powell, however, insisted yesterday that without the postponement of the trip earlier this month "progress on the (energy) bills would not have been as rapid as it has been."
Earlier yesterday, one of the Carter's closet friends, Atlanta lawyer Charles Kirbo, told a breakfast meeting with reporters that the President will continue to encounter critism until he makes a breakthrough and achieves one of major objectives, such as passage of the energy ligislation.
But Kirbo said that, despite the critism, Carter will not change his style of leadership or order a revamping of his immediate staff in the White
During the discussion, Kirbo also:
Critized "certain elements of the press," which he did not identify, for being "unfair and unobjective." He said he has discussed this with the President and the Carter "has more patience and understanding of it than House, as some outsides have said he should do. I do."
Said Carter has slipped in the public opinion polls because "his is facing up to some problems that have been hanging around and are controlversial," and that approval rating may continue to slip "until he has a breakthrough and gets some of these things passed."
Said he was concerned about the President's finding time for "getting off where he can reflect and can talk to."
The Atlanta lawyer also said that Carter is "aging in the job as President, but that he has not lost his thirst for work.