Following are excerpts from President Carter's comments on some of the issues discussed at yesterdays news conference. Polls
My interpretation is the polls have been much more accurate the last week or two than they were before. (Laughter.) But I will do the best I can. I think it is not an accurate conclusion that the culmination of our efforts on say natural gas, civil service reform and other major endeavors in the Congress, is the result of the Camp David accords.
Obviously, my own reputation as a capable leader was enhanced by that agreement, but we have been working very long months to bring about the conclusion of some highly controversial issues.
I will continue to do the best I can. But my actions will never be predicated on what is the most popular. But I will do what I think is best for our country. I will take my chances on whether the people approve or not. Lebanon
This is a subject that President Sadat raised with me several times at Camp David. It is one in which we have been involved, as you know, for many months. There is a tragedy in Lebanon that the rest of the world has not adequately addressed, including ourselves.
The suffering of the people of Lebanon, through no fault of their own in almost every case has been extraordinary. Obviously the responsibility for resolving the Lebanon question rests primarily on the shoulders of those who live there.
My commitment has been to strengthen the Sarkis government, politically, economically and militarily. We gave them some aid so that the president of that country can control the affairs of the country itself.
When we were flying back from Camp David on the helicopter, President Sadat and I were talking about this, Prime Minister Begin joined in the conversation. All three of us committed ourselves to renew our support for the Sarkis government, the Lebanese government. So they have the prime responsibility.
The next two nations I would say that are most intimately involved are Syria, which has large forces in maintain order by themselves under exisiting circumstances, and Israel, who obviously wants a stable government, stable people on their northern border.
Other countries more removed geographically also have an intense interest and influence in Lebanon. I would say two of them would be Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
More distantly, other countries that have a direct historical interest like the United States and France would be involved. All this could be done under the aegis of the United Nations.
But I think it is time for us to take joint action to call a conference of those who are involved, primarily the people who live in Lebanon, the different factions there and try to reach some solution that may involve a new charter for Lebanon.
I am not in favor of a partitioned Leabanon, I would like to see a unified Lebanon at peace with a strong enough central government to control the situation there and protect its own people. Vetoes
The public works bill has now passed the conference committee and both the House and Senate have adopted the conference report. This bill in its present form is completely unacceptable to me. And I will decide whether or not to veto it when it gets to my desk. It is up to the leaders of the Congress to decide when to submit it to me.
My objections to some of its features are well-known. I think that we have got to establish a policy in Washington, the Congress and I, particularly in these crucial days when inflation is our number one concern, at least on the domestic scene that will be an example for the rest of the nation to follow.
If we continue the age-old policy of pork barrel allocations in the public works bill, this is a horrible example to set for the rest of the country. It would make it very diffcult for me to control inflation if the Congress and I couldn't set a good example for the rest of the nation.
So I am willing to meet the Congress on this issue - we have an honest difference of opinion with some of the members of the Congress - and have it resolved in a constitutional and appropriate way.
If it involves a veto, the Congress has a right to express their displeasure by attempting to override my veto. I am going to do the best I can, if I do veto the bill, to get enough votes to sustain my veto.
There have been some allegations made that the Congress might try to connect this bill with the energy bill.I don't believe they will do that. The proper way for the Congress to express its displeasure over the veto of the public works bill is to override the veto.
I believe the energy legislation is too important for any responsible Member of the House of Representatives to connect it with the public works bill. Inflation
When I came into office, we had a budget deficit of almost $70 billion - I think $66 billion.By the end of this congressional session. I hope we will almost have brought that down below $40 billion, may be even lower. We are cutting down the federal deficit. We have a very tight constraint on spending. This is important in controlling inflation.
I am going to be very persistent in my own role as President in holding down unwarranted spending in individual bills that come to me from the Congress. I think the time for wasteful spending is over.
And I think if we can show that we can get inflation under control through those actions by me and the Congress, that would be an inducement for the Federal Reserve to start bringing the interest rate down.
But each one of those elements of our government - Federal Reserve, Congress, president are independent. I cannot control the other two. I can set a good example. That is what I am trying to do. West Bank Dispute
There are two elements of the dispute. One is at what time will the agreement not to build any more settlements be concluded. Prime Minister Begin's interpretation is that this is to be maintained the prohibition against new settlements, during the negotiations concerning the Sinai with Egypt.
My very clear understandings is that it related to the negotiation for conclusion in the West Bank-Gaza Strip of the establishment of a self-government. The other question concerns whether or not Israel would initiate new settlements after this negotiating period was concluded and the self-government was established.
I think the best answer to that is that this is an honest difference of opinion. The best answer I can give is to quote from a statement by Foreign Minister Dayan, who was with us at that midnight meeting and this is a statement he made at the Ben Guiron Airport on the 19th of September, when he arrived in Israel:
"Let us not delude ourselves" (I am quoting him) "I have no doubt that when enter into deliberations with the other parties concerning what is to happen in the area in the five years of transition - that is the West Bank-Gaza Strip - this question will come up and will be discussed and agreement will have to be reached on his subject."
So the degree of participation of the residents of the West Bank has still got to be determined. It is an honest different of opinion. It would certainly be no obstacle to the progress toward peace.
But I can't say we have resolved it yet. There is no personal animosity between myself and Prime Minister Begin.
I certainly do not allege any improper action on his part. It is just an honest difference of opinion, which I think will be resolved.
As far as my going to the Mideast is concerned, nothing would please me more than 10 participate in the signing of a peace treaty at an early date. But that is still to be negotiated. The only request that President Sadat made of me in the entire Camp David proceedings was that I come to Egypt. I promised him that I would, sometime in the future. SALT
The issues that divide us and the Soviet Union on SALT have been constantly narrowed over the last 18 months of negotiation. Now the issues are quite few.
I also talked to Secretary Vance since lunch. He has been meeting today and yesterday with Foreign Minister Gromyko of the Soviet Union. I think both are negotiating aggressively and in good faith to reach a conclusion of the differences.
I don't know what the outcome will be. It takes two to reach agreement. We hope to conclude a SALT agreement this year.
I will be meeting with Foreign Minister Gromyko Saturday to capitalize upon the progress that I think Vance and Gromyko are making now. I don't see any insurmountable obstacles. But if the Soviets are forthcoming and cooperative and are willing to compromise some of their positions, we will have an agreement.