Secretary of State Cyrus Vance said tonight that he and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat have made "good progress" toward resolving the problems blocking an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty although "one or two items still have to be further explored."
Vance's upbeat assessment came as he and Sadat appeared before reporters following their second meeting in two days. The Egyptian president, who normally is quite talkative with the press, said he would have "no comment as this time" and let Vance act as the spokesman.
Vance then was asked about the two issues that have stalled the U.S.-mediated peace talks for the past month and that have caused him to come to the Middle East in hopes of breaking the deadlock.
"Let me say I believe we have made progress on both of the key remaining issues, but we have not yet completed the final discussions," Vance replied.
He noted that the matters discussed with Sadat now have to be taken up with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and reiterated that "If it is necessary to engage in a form of shuttle for a period of time, I shall be silling to do so."
Immediately after the meeting at a villa outside of Cairo, Vance flew to Jerusalem where he will be one of the official U.S. representatives at the funeral Tuesday of former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir. Although some brief informal talks with Begin seem inevitable, Vance has said he does not intend to get into the problems of the treaty while at the funeral.
Following the services, Vance is scheduled to return here Tuesday afternoon for another meeting with Sadat and then go back to Jerusalem Wednesday to begin detailed to discussions with the Israelis. Asked what he expected to happen after that, he said:
"I shall do everything I can to help overcome the remaining obstacles. But I can't tell how much longer I will be in the area. I just don't know."
Two factors that bear on the possible length of Vance's Middle East mission are the U.s/. desire, underscored by President Carter and Vance in recent days, to reach a treaty agreement by the Dec. 17 date specified in the Camp David accords and the revelation theat Vance is scheduled to meet Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in Geneva in hopes of wrapping up a strategic arms limitation talks (SALT) agreement.
On the first point, Vance said, "I think we all ought to try and see if we can wrap up the treaty by Dec. 17. I'm not predicting we can do it, but we ought to try."
He did not discuss the SALT meeting, but U.S. sources, while refusing to confirm reports that the Geneva meeting has been fixed for Dec. 20, did say that Vance and Gromyko plan to get together there "late this month."
The sources also said that, given the uncertainties of his Middle East mediation mission, it was not possible to say at this point whether he will go directly to Geneva from this region. They left the impression, though, that, given a choice, he would prefer to return to Washington before getting into the SALT discussions.
The disputes Vance is trying to resolve involve Egypt's insistence that the treaty be accompanied by a timetable for negotiations on establishing Palestinian autonomy in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and Egypt's desire to change an article in the draft treaty text giving its peace accord with Israel precedence over Egypt's defense treaties with other Arab states.
Israel has rejected both demands, and Vance's proposed method for bridging the gap is known to center on the idea of accompanying the treaty with separate letters that would clarify the interpretations and positions of both governments.
News services reported these Middle East developments :
Iraq's vice president, Saddam Hussein, arrived in Moscow on a state visit that observers think is aimed at patching up a dispute between the Soviet Union and Iraq's neighbor, Syria, over the Kremlin's reported refusal to supply additional arms to Syria unless the Syrians sign a friendship treaty.
Jordan's King Hussein arrived in Paris for talks with President Valery Giscard d' Estaing on the Palestinian problem.
Official sources in Amman said Hussein would seek a meeting with Ayatollah Ruhollah Knomeini, the exiled leader of Iran's conservative Moslem opposition ot the shah. Hussein is a close friend of the shah and met with him recently.