Secretary of State Cyrus Vance took the U.S. case for the Camp David accords to the influential and highly skeptical Saudi leadership yesterday amid continuing Arab hostility to the Egyptian-Israeli deal.
Following Vance's meeting of more than two hours with Crown Prince Fahd and other Saudi leaders, State Department spokesman Hodding Carter said there was "no final verdict" except agreement that dialogue should continue.
Acting with unusual speed and bluntness, the Saudi cabinet rejected the Camp David agreements in an official statement Tuesday, calling them an "unacceptable formula for a definitive peace." Other moderate Arab countries, which frequently take their lead from the Saudis, quickly followed suit with public statements attacking the Camp David results.
Spokesman Carter said after yesterday's meeting that no change was evident in the Saudi position. A U.S. official who took part said he did not expect additional Saudi statements on the subject in the near future.
Despite advance knowledge that it is an uphill battle, Vance had hoped to win support or at least sympathetic understanding from the powerful Saudis, who bankroll Egypt, Jordan, Syria and other Arab states as well as the Palestine Liberation Organization. Although the dialogue with Washington is expected to continue in diplomatic channels, there was no claim last night that Saudi understanding of Camp David had been achieved.
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's assertion that the Camp David agreement only temporarily restricts Jewish settlements on the West Bank and number of other satements by Israeli and Egyptian leaders have made headlines in the Arab world where they have provoked growing consternation.
Among these are statements by Regic that Israeli military forces may remain indefinitely on the West Bank, and that Israel will never relinquish East Jerusalem, which contains Moslem as well as Christian and Jewish holy sites.
Also causing anger were statements of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat that he will sign a peace treaty with Israel and even negotiated detail arrangements on the West Bank regardless of whether other Arab states object.
Vance has been asked by both Jordatian and Saudi leaders about the dispute with Israel and the freeze on West Bank settlements. Spokesman Carter said he did not believe the dispute had been a substantial complication for Vance but added that "every answered question delays the day when full understanding can be reached."
Prior to his meeting with Fabd who is considered the effective day-to-day leader of Saudi Arabia. Vance met for 30 minutes with the ailing King Khabo. The 65-year-old monarch is to fly to Cleveland, Ohio, early next week for heart surgery. A team of Cleveland physicians was here last week to examine the Saudi leader, who has been in poor health for several years.
Yesterday morning in Amman, Jordan, across the desert to the West Vance held a final private meeting on the Camp David accords with King Hussein. On leaving Jordan, Vance called his meetings here "a full and thorough exchange in warm and friendly spirit" and expressed understanding of Hussein's need to obtain more information about the Camp David arrangements in developing his own position.
In a prepared statement at the departure ceremony for Vance. Jordanian Minister of State for Freign Affairs Hassan Ibrahim gave little comfort to the position of his U.S. visitor.