Two words were left out of a paragraph yesterday in an article about President Carter's meeting with Greek Americans on the repeal of the Turkish arms embargo. The paragraph should have read: "Some of those present said later that Carter, who campaigned for the presidency with a promise to retain the embargo, was clearly upset by charges that he had broken his pledge." The words "by charges" were dropped through a composing room error.
President Carter yesterday called on Greek-Americans to support repeal of the U.S. arms embargo against Turkey, but his appeal was rejected angrily by Greek-American leaders who met with him at the White House.
The meeting in the State Dining Room was an emotional encounter for both sides.
Some of those present said later that Carter, who campaigned for the presidency with a promise to retain the embargo, was clearly upset that he had broken his pledge.
After addressing the more than 100 Greek-Americans invited to the meeting, they said, Carter started to leave, but then turned back and said he didn't want them to believe he would go back on his word. He had changed his mind, Carter said, out of belief that lifting the embargo is the only way to end the Turkish occupation of Cyprus.
However, at a news conference afterward, a parade of speakers made clear that the president's appeal had not changed the resolve of the leaders of the country's 3 million Greek-Americans to continue fighting against the embargo.
"We as one person disagreed with him. We unanimously implored the president to reverse his field. We were totally disappointed," said George Kracazs of Chicago, political action of chairman of the United Hellenic-American Congress.
The windup speaker, Christos Spirou, Democratic leader of the New Hampshire Legislature, characterized the White House's bid for support as "offending the Greek felotimo." When reporters asked what the word meant, a chorus of voices shouted back, "Love of honor."
This continued, unyielding resistance by the Greek-American community indicated that Carter faces an uphill battle in his campaign to convince Congress that U.S. security interests in the eastern Mediterranean require a resumed flow of arms to Turkey.
Congress imposed the embargo three years ago, after Turkey used U.S. weapons in its 1974 invasion of Cyprus. Turkey continues to occupy roughly 38 percent of that island republic, which has an 80 percent Greek population.
Carter has characterized the impending vote on his repeal request as "the most pressing foreign policy issue" facing Congress. And, as part of his drive to rally public opinion to his side, he set aside part of yesterday morning for the meeting with prominent Greek-Americans from around the country.
Those who attended described the meeting, which included a briefing by the president's special adviser on Cyprus, Clark Clifford, in such words as "cordial," "pleasant" and even "warm."
Carter, who spent an hour with the group, opened his remarks by saying: "We come together not as a teacher talking to students, but for me to learn from you as well as for you to understand the policies of our government."
But, as the emotion-charged news conference subsequently made clear, neither side had much success in changing the other's mind.
The tone was set by George Christopher, former mayor of San Francisco, who noted that, although a Republican, he had campaigned actively for Carter because of his promise to support the embargo. The president, Christopher said, had "dissapointed me bitterly."
He and the other speakers charged that the Carter administration had "undercut and undermined the embargo" by encouragin Turkey to ignore it, had ignored human rights violations allegedly committed by the Turks on Cyprus and had shown itself interested only in sparing Turkey embarrassment.
The point made most often by the different speakers was summarized by Nicholas C. Petris, a California state senator who represents the Oakland-Berkley area.