TOKYO -- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said today he does not think the controversy over Reagan campaign access to White House documents in 1980 should prevent President Reagan from seeking re-election.
'I don't think this is the kind of issue that would prevent his running for re-election, nor should it be,' Carter said in an interview with Japan's national broadcasting network NHK on the first day of a six-day private visit to Japan.
Carter also refused to rule out that Reagan may have had personal access to Carter's briefing book for the presidential debate.
Saying he would 'avoid any comment' on such a possibility until official investigations were finished, the former president noted, 'compared to his (Reagan's) news conferences now, he was much more aware of specific things and much more ready to answer questions.'
'But that may have been because he prepared for the debate so thoroughly. President Reagan has said that he did not personally have the papers from my campaign and of course I expect his word has been true.'
'The American people, I think, are interested in knowing to what degree they have been misled by the debate,' he added, saying Reagan at first diImissed the controversy but now appears to understand 'it is a very serious matter.'
Carter arrived in Tokyo today to promote the new 'Carter Center' at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and to discuss a project in Georgia of YoINida Kogyo Kaisha, a major Japanese zipper and window sLIN maker.
In an exclusive interview shortly after he arrived, Carter also underscored the importance of nuclear arms negotiations, saying he feared that most of the current proposals are being offered for their 'propaganda effect.'
'(President Reagan) has never been a supporter of the previous nuclear arms agreement ... but since he has been in office, he has agreed to honor the basic terms of the SALT treaty, as long as the Soviets do the same.'
'My own concern is that, under present circumstances, most of the proposals concerning nuclear arms controls (are made) with the desire for propaganda effect,' he added.
He said he believes 'the Soviets do negotiate in good faith ... I'm convinced that the Soviet people, as do the American people, want peace.'