President Carter, escaping Washington's frigid weather, arrived here today for two days of talks with the United States' principal Euripean allies to be followed by three days of vacation.
Carter, French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, British Prime Minister James Callaghan and West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt all descended upon this French-ruled Caribbean island this afternoon. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the mid-80s.
Beginning tonight at dinner, the four leaders were to sit down for discussions that U.S. officials have stressed will be "informal," with no prearranged agenda. The only events formally scheduled for the summit conference are luncheons the four men will attend on Friday and Saturday.
Each of the four leaders was accompanied by his wife and Carter also brought along his daughter Amy. The summit gathering, according to U.S. officials, is expected to include a number of "social" activities involving the families.
If nothing else, the setting clearly will contribute to the atmosphere of informality. Guadeloupe, southeast of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a winter tourist haven dotted with plush hotels. When Britain's Callaghan announced the location and time of the summit, it proviked uproarious laughter in the House on Commons, whose members remained today in the winter cold of London.
Shortly after he arrived here, Callaghan seemed unconcerned about opinion in the House of Commons. Giscard was asked by photographers to produce Callaghan for a picture. The French president replied that he could not because the prime minister was already in his swimming trunks.
Even without an agenda as such, many of the topics of conversation are predictable. They are bound to include European security matters, including the strategic arms limitation talks with the Soviet Union and future discussions with the Soviets on tactical nuclear weapons, the Middle East peace negotiations, various "trouble spots" in the world, including southern Africa, and international economic issues.
Moreover, the deteriorating situation in Iran, which is an important supplier of oil to the four nations, is certain to come up.
The unstructured nature of the summit -- the first of its kind among leaders of the four countries since 1959 -- made the outcome unpredictable. U.S. officials have stressed that no formal agreements or decisions are expected.
Carter, according to Powell, said he expects the talks to be "positive and productive, even though we are not looking for final or detailed decisions on these matters." Powell also quoted the president as saying:
"The striking point about this conference is that it does not focus on problems among the four nations and that these relationships (among the four) have not been better, nor has cooperation among the four been better in over a decade.
"There are serious problems in the world but there are always serious problems," Carter continued. "This relationship of cooperation provides us with an excellent basis for effectively addressing these problems together and that is what we'll be talking about in Guadeloupe."
Initially, plans for the summit called for each of the leaders to be accompanied by only one aide, in the president's case, by national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski. But the American delegation quickly ballooned. In addition to Brzezinski, Carter was accompanied by Henry Owen, his special assistant for economic summits, Hamilton Jordan, his chief political adviser, and Robert Gates of the National Security Council staff.
Powell and other White House press aides made the trip to care for the large contingent of American reporters, who were at least as eager to escape the Washington weather as the White Houe party.
On Sunday, Carter will leave his quarters for the summit, at a new resort on the southern coast of Guadeloupe known as the Hamak, for the home of French Prefect Guy Mailard, where he will stay through Tuesday. While there, Powell said, Carter will work on domestic economic matters and may make some domestic announcements.