THE PRESIDENT. Good morning, everybody. First of all, I would like to say that it's been a delight to have Prime Minister Begin and his team from Israel here to discuss matters of common interest between our two countries, and particularly to emphasize the issues that are being resolved to carry out all the terms of the Camp David accords. Following my meeting last week with President Sadat, those issues were identified, and the possible differences were also delineated.
I can say that this has been a very constructive and a very productive talk between myself and Prime Minister Begin. We believe that we will now have a concerted effort during this next 40 days to conclude the agreement between Israel and Egypt, with our full participation, by May the 26th. That is our goal. And the meetings will be held, at Prime Minister Begin's suggestion and with the approval of President Sadat, in Egypt and in Israel with, as I say, full participation by the United States.
So, we are delighted at the progress that has been made. We have a long way to go before final agreement. Our goal is to conclude it by May the 26th, and I think we have made good progress toward that goal.
I'd like to introduce now my good friend and a distinguished visitor, one that we honor in every way, Prime Minister Begin, representing the great nation of Israel.
THE PRIME MINISTER. Thank you, Mr. President. I wish to express my thanks to the President for his invitation and for the time we spent together, either privately or with our colleagues and advisers in the Cabinet Room and held very serious talks. Usually in our time, when you say that the talks were conducted in friendship and frankness, people immediately say, "Oh, that proves that there were great differences of opinion between them." Therefore, I will not say those words. I will state very simply—and it is absolutely truthful-we had very good talks, thanks to the atmosphere created by the President, in the Cabinet Room, and we also held private talks, the President and myself.
I think we made real progress. And all of us concerned will do their utmost to bring about an agreement which will make possible to install the full autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs, inhabitants of Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza District, and assure Israel's security, as all of us are interested in. And therefore, we'll make a special effort in Egypt and in Israel, dividing the 40 days left until that date into two. And we shall negotiate not only intensively but daily, almost every hour, with very short intervals, and so there is a hope, indeed, that we may reach that goal. Of course, we are all human and, perhaps, if there is a necessity to continue for a while, we of course will do so gladly.
And therefore, I leave now Washington, again in a spirit of faith, and I want to again reiterate our deep friendship for the American people, the United States, for the role they play in the world. I want to express my wish that very soon the hostages come back home from Iran and rejoin their families, and that all of us men who believe in liberty stand by it and defend it successfully.
The relations between the United States and Israel are important from this point of view, and therefore we not only cherish them, we are going to develop them in the future as well.
Mr. President, my colleagues and I are very grateful to you and to your colleagues for the wonderful hospitality you extended to us during the 2 days in Washington. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Good luck to you. Thank you so much.
Sources: Public Papers of the President