Former President Jimmy Carter criticized President Reagan's 'lack of...

NEW YORK -- Former President Jimmy Carter criticized President Reagan's 'lack of progress in Middle East peace' Sunday and claimed Reagan has been 'extremely successful in not being responsible for anything that's unpleasant.'

Carter, in an interview from his Plains, Ga., home aired on CBS' '60 Minutes,' offered a biting assessment of the Reagan White House.


'When I was there,' Carter said, 'there was no doubt who was responsible. Now there is a great doubt about who's responsible and Reagan has been extremely successful in not being responsible for anything that's unpleasant or completely successful.

'He has never accepted responsibility for lack of progress in Middle East peace or a lack of progress on alleviating the problems of the poor and he's been remarkably successful in telling people, you know, everything is OK.

'It's OK for the Marines to be embarrassed and damaged in Lebanon, it's OK to have $200 billion dollar deficits, it's OK to have $120 billion trade imbalances and so forth,' Carter said.

Carter predicted Reagan's economic policies will cause further 'suffering in the agricultural community' and 'a continued deterioration in the banking and financial institutions.'

'So, you know, what will be the Reagan heritage is too early to say. I cannot think of a single international or diplomatic achievement that's been realized by Ronald Reagan.'

He also criticized Reagan, who defeated him in 1980, for abandoning efforts to curb human rights abuses around the world and particularly in Chile.

'I think we have let the world know that our country is no longer the foremost proponent or user of negotiations and diplomacy and that our country's first reaction to a troubled area is to try to inject American military forces or threats as our nation's policy.'

Carter also said it would be a 'good move' toward peace in the Middle East for Secretary of State George Shultz to 'sit down with' Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yassir Arafat.

'I don't see any way for any substantive progress to be made in the Middle East peace process without the Palestinians being intimately involved in the process,' said Carter.

In an interview with Newsweek, released Sunday, Carter said the new Arab peace initiative offers a good opportunity for a breakthrough.

'If Reagan is waiting for a better moment, a more transcendent proposal, I think he's wasting his time,' Carter told Newsweek.

In the '60 Minutes' interview, Carter also took a swipe at Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who challenged him for the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination, saying 'it would be highly unlikely' that Kennedy 'would ever be approved as a potential president by the American people.'

'That's my expectation and also my hope,' said Carter.

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