President Carter yesterday declared himself in sympathy with Egypt's desire for language in the Egyptian Israeli peace treaty that would commit both countries to negotiate further on a comprehensive Middle East settlement.
The U.S.-mediated negotiations have been impeded by Israel's attempt to weaken or delete language in the treaty's preamble that would link an Egyptian-Israeli accord to talks on another Middle East issue-the future status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and their Palestinian inhabitants.
"I personally favor the presently negotiated language , which in the preamble does say that both nations commit themselves to carry out the comprehensive peace agreemen as was agreed at Camp David," Carter said at a news conference in Kansas City.
However, Carter added that he believes the matter should be settled through negotiation by Egypt and Israel, and he promised that the United States will not try to impose a solution on either country.
Still, Carter's words put him squarely on the side of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in the dispute that has been the biggest barrier to completion on an Egyptian Israeli peace treaty.
Sadat concerned about his relations with the rest of the Arab world, wants the treaty to contain language citing the need for further negotiations about the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
However, Israel, insisting that these issues should be treated separately from a peace accord with Eyypt, has resisted the idea of a treaty containing language that could be interpreted as setting up a legal tie between the Egyptian treaty and negotiations on the West Bank.
On Wednesday, the Israeli informed Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance that Prime Minister Menachem Begin's cabinet objects to the "linkage" in the preamble that had been tentatively agreed upon by the negotiators here.
According to reliable sources, the current Israeli position, as conveyed to Vance, is that any references to the West Bank question should be limited to an exchange of letters accompanying the treaty.
When asked about the linkage dispute yesterday Carter replied: "Well, there's never been any doubt in my mind, nor President Sadat's nor Prime Minister Begin's, that one of the premises for the Camp David negotiations was a comprehensive peace settlement that includes not just an isolated peace treaty between Israel and Egypt but includes a continuation of a solution for the West Bank, Gaza Strip and for the Golan Heights as well."
He then noted that the Egyptians and Israeli disagree about "how specificaly it should be expressed in the treaty." He added that he finds the linkage language tentatively agreed to by the negotiators "adequate" and said: "Our presumption is to adhere to that language as our preference."
Calling for a rapid conclusion of the talks, Carter indirectly chided both the Israeli and Egyptian governments for their reluctance to accept the compromises worked out by their negotiating teams in Washington.
"We have reached on more than one occasion so far agreement on the text between the negotiators themselves," he said. "When they refer the texts back to the leaders at home in Egypt and Israel, sometimes the work that has been done is partially undone."
Shortly after Carter, Egypt's acting foreign minister, Boutros Ghali, freshly returned from consultations in Cairo, met with Vance to give him the Sadat government's latest thinking on the course of the negotiations.
Some concern had been raised here by reports from Cairo indicating Sadat is unhappy about Israel's refusal to accept explicit linkage language. On Wednesday, Sadat told a Kuwaiti newspaper it might be necessary to break off the negotiations temporarily over the linkage issue.
However, prior to yesterday's meeting between Vance and Ghali, George Sherman, the spokesman for the talks, said the Egyptians had made clear that they are not seeking to reopen any of the issues that already have been agreed upon.
Later, Ghali also tried to minimize the idea that the talks are in serious danger of bogging down. In a brief statement to reporters, he said, "I hope we'll overcome quickly the small difficulties which still exist . . ."
Privately, sources connected with the talks agreed that there does not seem to be any liklihood of a collapse. But they conceded that the continued failure to resolve the dispute over the linkage question has dashed hopes of a quick windup of the negatiations.
Last weekend, some sources had predicted the treaty would be ready for initialing by the end of this week. As of yesterday, though, there seemed unanimous agreement that the talks would have to continue through next week or longer.