Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance said yesterday that the next U.S. move to break the deadlock in the Middle East peace talks will involve a ministerial-level meeting rather than the summit conference sought by Egypt and Israel.
Testifying before Congress, Vance revealed that the Carter administration has resolved its internal debate about whether the drive for an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty requires a new Camp David-type meeting of President Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
"I believe the next step will be a meeting at the ministerial level," Vance said, thereby signaling that Carter is reluctant to expose himself to the risk of a summit at this time and wants his secretary of state to first make another try at reviving the stalled, four-month-old treaty negotiations.
In any new talks, Vance's negotiating partners are likely to be Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Khalil and Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan. However, State Department sources said yesterday Washington has not yet contacted Egypt and Israel about a new meeting and no decisions have been made about time, place or participants.
Vance's comments came as he and Defense Secretary Harold Brown appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to outline the administration's proposals for foreign aid and military assistance programs totaling $8.9 billion during fiscal 1980.
It was the first formal meeting in this Congress of the committee, which earlier yesterday readopted the Foreign Affairs title after being known for four years as the International Relations Committee.
Instead of foreign aid, though, most of the questioning centered on the Middle East and the relationship between the Egyptian-Israeli talks and the uncertainties created by the crisis in Iran.
Vance said the Iranian situation had demonstrated to both Egypt and Israel the need for them to contribute to the stability of the region by "returning to the bargaining table and resolving the differences" blocking a peace treaty.
But, he noted, the recent failure of his special Middle East envoy, Alfred L. Atherton Jr., to find solutions for some of the lesser Egyptian-Israeli disagreements had made clear that the treaty impasse "can be dealt with only as a package."
Such a package, he emphasized, will have to include all outstanding issues -- both those involving differing interpretations of the draft treaty text and the more sensitive issue of "how to establish a self-governing authority" for the Palestinian inhabitants of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The principal stumbling block in the talks has been Egypt's insistence that the treaty be accompanied by a timetable and target date for concluding separate negotiations on the Palestinian autonomy question. Israel, while agreeing to negotiate on this issue after completion of a peace treaty with Egypt, has refused to accept a timetable or target date.
The State Department sources said that Vance, who made an unsuccessful shuttle trip between Cairo and Jerusalem in December, is reluctant to undertake another such mission and would prefer to have the new ministerial meeting in Washington.
He is understood to feel that further Middle East shuttling could involve as much as a month of his time and is unwilling to be absent from Washington for so long at a time of pending major developments in U.S. relations with China and attempts to conclude a strategic arms limitation treaty (SALT) with the Soviet Union.
The aid requests presented by Vance and Brown include $5.7 billion for nonmilitary economic aid and slightly more than $3 billion in security assistance. Vance noted that, in line with the administration's drive for spending restraints, the amount is $500 million less than than the $9.4 billion requested last year and only $160 million more than the amount actually appropriated by Congress for fiscal 1979.
The nomilitary requests cover $1.8 billion for direct aid to individual countries, $3.6 billion for funds to be chaneled through international lending agencies like the World Bank, and $277 million in contributions to international organizations like agencies of the United Nations.
On the military side, the administration is asking for $110 million to cover direct grants of military equipment, $33 million for training of foreign military personnel, $2 billion in security supporting assistance to help financially hard-pressed U.S. allies with nonmilitary-economic problems, and $656.3 million in credits to finance U.S. foreign military sales of $2.1 billion.
Under the military sales financing program, Congress has to appropriate one dollar to guarantee each $10 in loans made by the Federal Financing Bank.
Although Vance did not provide a detailed breakdown of where all the money will go, he revealed that the bulk of military assistance is earmarked for Egypt and Israel -- $750 million to Egypt for security supporting assistance and, for Israel, $750 million in security supporting assistance and $1 billion for military sales credits. Under special congressional legislation, Israel is excused from repaying half of the sales credit loans.