President Carter has said that Arab leaders -- despite their public espousal of the Palestinian cause -- have not privately pressed for the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
"I have never met an Arab leader that in private professed a desire for an independent Palestinian state," Carter told a group of editors in Florida Thursday night. The White House released a transcript of the interview today.
Carter said: "Publicly, they all espouse an independent Palestian state -- almost all of them -- because that is what they committed themselves to do at Rabat. But the private diplomatic tone of conversations is much more proper than is often alleged by the press and by others."
Carter made his comments after being asked whether Saudi Arabia had sought to link progress on a Middle East peace settlement with its recent decision to increase oil production. Carter said there was no linkage of the two raised by the Saudis. And he went on to say that the Saudis had not attempted to use oil as a political weapon to press for progress in the Mideast talks.
Saudi Arabis is among the moderate Arab states that supported the resolution in the United Nations Security Council for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. But Carter drew a significant distinction between this sort of public espousal of the Palestinian cause and private pressures that the Saudis might choose to exert.
"Really," said Carter, "it would be a very great surprise to me for Crown Prince Fahd to send through our Ambassador John West to me a message: If you don't expedite the resolution of the Palestinian question, we will cut off your oil."
The president also sharply challenged the contention of one questioner that the sale of kerosene to Iran amounted to the payment of blackmail -- refined kerosene to guarantee further shipments of oil.
"There was no threat, whatsoever, issued to me or implied through the Iranians or any other intermediary," Carter said. ". . . Since I have been in office there has never been any allegation made to me or any insinuation made to me by an Arab or other foreign leader that if you don't do so and so, we will cut off your supply of oil.
". . . I wouldn't let you blackmail me and I would not let an Arab country blackmail our nation."
Today, Carter expressed doubt, in answer to a reporter's question, that Israel had ever bugged the residence of United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young.
"There is no way for me to certify to that kind of thing, Carter said, "but in our key spots -- like the Oval Office and the U.N. Ambassador's residence -- there is a routine sweep of the premises designed to detect any sort of surreptitious listening devices and my guess is that if any nation should try to bug the telephone or the premises of the U.N. Ambassador, it would be detected quite early and there have been no detections of any such devices."