Camp David summit conference will end today even if the negotiating deadlock between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on a framework for Middle East peace efforts remains unresolved, the White House announced yesterday.
In the 12th day intensive but thus far unsuccessful secret talks, Present Carter in effect abandoned his strategy of letting the negotiations proceed without a deadline. He set a final 48-hour period for negotiation by getting Sadat and Begin to agree late Friday that the summit would end today.
"It simply grew out of conclusion that everyone had come to that all these issues had been thoroughly aired and explored," presidential press secretary Jody Powell said at a noon briefing for reporters yesterday. Powell asserted that the decision was "not a result of despair."
But he conceded that "it is not possible to say at this time whether efforts to resolve the differences will be successful." The U.S. goal had been to reach a framework for further negotiations between the Egyptians and Israelis, formally broken off by Sadat on July 30.
Powell again declined to give any details of the talks. But informed sources said Sadat was continuing to insist on a statement containinga clear Israeli commitment to restoring Arab soverignty on the West Bank territory of the Jordan River, and Begin was continuing to refuse to move on this fundamental question.
Efforts to reconcile the two positions will continue today, and it was not clear from Powell's brief statement whether the three leaders would report on the results late today or tomorrow. He added that it was not yet known if there would be one final communique signed by the three leaders, or separate statements.
Carter met with Sadat alone yesterday and, last night, after the conclusion of the Jewish sabbath, talked alone with Begin. Powell said that before the summit ends Carter would hold at least one more meeting bringing together Sadat and Begin, who have not met in a negotiating session since the third day of the conference.
While Powell's statements raised the possibility that Carter's heavy investment of time and prestige in the formed sources said that agreement has already been reached on a number of points other than the sovereignty question.
Drafting sessions were continuing involving the delegations' legal experts yesterday, according to one source. (See SUMMIT, A20, Col.1) (SUMMIT, From A1)
Despite this progress and the 12 days of negotiations under Carter's sponsorship, the talks appeared to have not resolved the essential difference in perception of the negotiatin process itself that Begin and Sadat brought with them to the presidential retreat in the Catoctin Mountains.
Israel favored a summit that would open the way for lengthy new talks to build on the dramatic initiative Sadat launched last November by visiting Jerusalem. For Begin, partial agreement here on questions not involving aovereignty would be a major success.
Sadat came to Camp David committed to maintaining an all-or-nothing approach rather than accepting a patchwork compromise that, in his view would lead to nothing more than talking for the sake of talking. his strategy at the begining was to push for an open failure rather than accept an unsatisfactory compromise.
Today's final effort will apparently determine the fate of the points already agreed upon, which are thought to inclued new security arrangements on the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and in the Egyptian Sinai peninaula. Some Israeli troop withdrawals from the Sinai form one likely area for partial agreement tied to a continuation of negotiations.
Powell indicated that it would be possible for the three leaders to change their decision and prolong the talks if substantial new progress were made today.
The agreement to end the talks was reached Friday in separate meetings that Vice President Mondale had with Sadat and Being. The deadline, suggested by Carter, was quickly agreed to by the others.
"it is not possible to say at this point what time Sunday the summit will conclude, or whether efforts to resolve differences will be successful . . . whether there has been or there is, by the conclusion (today), enough flexibility exhibited on both sides, enough progress, to allow these (Arab-Isreali peace) discussions to continue, is something that I am simply not in a position ot predict at this point," Powell said.
The final push for agreement began early yesterday with what Powell described as "very intense" meetings among American officials, presumably to produce one last series of American proposals to narrow the differences between the Israeli and Egyptian delegations.
For more than a week, Powell has been saying that progress could evaporate unless both sides showed more flexibility. Asked yesterday whether "the progress that has bee made can stand on its own," he replied, "I suppose that remains to be seen."
Responding to questions at the Thurmont press center here, Powell did not deny reports that Carter has centered his efforts at Camp David on the concept of an interim sharing of power on the West Bank of the Jordan River by Israel, Jordan and local Palestinians, leading to final decision on sovereignty over the area.
The West Bank, occupied by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, is a key sticking point in the nigotiations. Sadat is insisting on Israeli witnhdrawal from all occupied territories, but Begin heretofore has refused to consider withdrawal from the West Bank, which he fears would become a haven for Palestinian terrorists and a threat to Israel's security.
Carter's decision ot impose a Sunday deadline on the conference coincided closely with reports that on Thursday night the talks reached a "crisis" point and Sadat threatened to walk out. Powell denied those reports, but itwas on Thursday night that Mondale was summoned to Camp Daivid and the next day was dispatched to, in effect, impose the deadline, leaving time for one final effort.
It was not clear what format the climax would take. Powell said he expected the talks to end at the earliest late this afternoon and he left open the possibility that they would last into tonight.
Nor wea it clear whether the final statements and documents that Powell siad will be produced by the summit will be made public here or in Washington. Many of these details hinge on how long the final round of talks lasts today. Powell said that if the talks go into the night, Carter, Begin and Sadat may remain overnight at Camp David, returning to Washington tomorrow.
He said there are no plans for an appearance of all three leaders before Congress, but left open the possibility that the president will address a joint session of Congress to report on the summit's results.