President Carter intervened in the Egyptian-Israeli peace talks yesterday in a bid to overcome what Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan publicly called "difficulties in out negotiations."
But, despite Dayan's talk of problems, the White House emphasized its satisfaction with the progress of the five-day-old talks; and sources on both said they were hopeful of reaching agreement on a peace treaty between the two Middle East countries sometime next week.
"I just want to say to the press, there is no particular problem, there is no crisis," Carter told reporters. "Everything is going about as well as we had expected."
To further underscore this upbeat note the White House later released a statement saying:
'The president and the Israeli and Egyptian delegations expressed their satisfaction with the progress so far. The reaffirmed their determination to continue that progress, so that the negotiations can be completed as soon as possible."
Neither Dayan nor anyone else involved would reveal the nature of the problem that caused them to turn to Carter and seek his mediation assistance.
The main issues at stake - working out details of the nature of the peace arrangements between Egypt and Israel and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied Sinai - are regarded as largely technical in nature and not difficult to resolve.
That caused speculation that the snag referred to by Dayan might stem from the so-called "side talks" tied up with the negotiations at Blair House. These involve the sensitive questions of the future status of the West bank, together with East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians who live in these areas.
After Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin reached agreement in principle on a peace treaty at the Camp David summit conference last month, Egypt said it might insist on some progress toward resolving the West Bank and Gaza Strip issues before it signs a peace treaty.
Israel's officer of limited autonomy for the short of demands in the Arab world for a Palestinian entity independent from Israel; the Carter administration expects the Palestinian question to be far more difficult to solve than the issues between Israel and Egypt.
That point was underscored anew yesterday by George Sherman, a State Department press officer who is acting as spokesman for all three countries. In his daily briefing, Sherman talked of progress on the peace treaty negotiations, but he refused to comment on whether similar progress was being made in the side talks involving the Palestinians.
Initially, both Sherman and the White House sought to play down the idea that the president was being called into the talks for the first time to play a mediator's role. Instead, they said, Carter's separate meetings with the Israeli and Egyptian delegations was simply to receive a progress report about the status of their talks.
However, a different impression was given by Dayan when he emerged from an-hour-and-15-minute session with Carter. He said: "We have come up agianst some difficulties in our negotiations with the Egyptian delegation. The president said to turn to him in such a case, and we have."
The flurry caused by Dayan's comments apparently spurred Carter into talking to the press when Egypt's acting foreign minister, Bhutros Ghali, arrived at the White House for his meeting later in the afternoon.
When reporters and photographers entered the Cabinet Room to take pictures of the opening of the meeting, Carter, speaking in a loud voice, carefully made his comments about there being "no crisis." He added: "There is no real need for an emergency meeting."
Earlier, Dayan, while talking with reporters, said he expected to be in Washington "through the weekend." A similar assessment was given by Egyptian delegation sources who said they believe the talks might wind up sbout the middle of next week.
Meanwhile, in Israel, Begin revealed one of the things apparently agreed to in the negotiations - establishment of an arbitration committee to settle future disputes between Israel and Egypt.
Israeli Radio quoted sources present at a Begin briefing of a oarliamentary committee as saying the prime minister had informed them of the arbitration committee. The sources said begin did not specify which outside countries will be members, although they are certain to include the United States because of its leading madiation role in the Middle East situation.