THE PRESIDENT. Good afternoon, everybody. I have two brief statements to make before I answer questions.
ARMS EMBARGO AGAINST TURKEY
The most immediate and urgent foreign policy decision to be made by the current legislative session is in lifting the arms embargo against Turkey. The points that the Congress intended to underscore 3 years ago, when the embargo was imposed, have all been made, but now the embargo is not contributing to a settlement of the Cyprus dispute, nor is it helping to improve our relationship with our allies, Turkey and Greece. It's driven a wedge between those two countries and has weakened the cohesiveness and the readiness of NATO. It's thereby harmed our own national security interests in the eastern Mediterranean, an area which is crucial to the defense of the southern flank of Europe, and also our own access and that of others to the Middle East.
It's important to implement an effective policy in this area of the eastern Mediterranean-Greece, Turkey, Cyprus area. We have three purposes, all of which are equally important: first, to serve U.S. and NATO security interests, as well as the security interests of Greece and Turkey as nations; second, to improve the relationship between Greece and Turkey; and third, to facilitate progress toward a Cyprus settlement.
I'm asking the Congress to support me in enacting the full program, which, in addition to removing the embargo against arms sales to Turkey, provides for military sales credits to both Turkey and to Greece, provides for economic aid to Turkey, and provides further funds for relief and rehabilitation for refugees in Cyprus.
Both Greece and Turkey are valuable friends and allies of our own. Lifting the embargo is essential to our hopes for peace and stability in the eastern region of the Mediterranean. And I hope that the American people and the Congress will give me their support in the realization of U.S. interests in this critical area of the world.
INFLATION AND FEDERAL SPENDING
The domestic issue that I would like to pursue is that of inflation. Last week I emphasized how important it is to hold the line on Federal budget expenditures as a series of appropriations bills are considered by the Congress during the next few weeks.
I cannot make this point too strongly, nor repeat it too often, because much of the fight against inflation from the perspective of the Federal Government itself depends on Congress action in the days ahead. Unless the Congress is responsible, the Federal deficit will rise at a time when it must and can be reduced. Unless the Congress shows restraint in spending, it will set the worst possible example for our workers and businessmen, whom I've asked to restrain their own wage and price increases in order to hold down inflation.
Unless we recognize the limits on our ability to spend in the Federal Government, then both American citizens and those in foreign countries will see that we cannot take the difficult decisions that are necessary if inflation is to be controlled.
I'm concerned in particular at this time about the public works appropriations bill that the House will begin voting on tomorrow. That bill, as passed by the Appropriations Committee, would add not only $1.4 billion in spending over the life of 46 new water projects, but it also continues spending for the unsound water projects which the Congress agreed not to fund last year. It would waste far too much of our taxpayers' money, and we just can't afford it.
With the help of many of the House Members who are also concerned about the inflationary impact of the public works bill, we will be working to eliminate the unnecessary spending proposals for water projects in that bill. Unless they are eliminated, I intend to veto it.
And now, I'd like to recognize Ms. Thomas [Helen Thomas, United Press International].
CUBAN INVOLVEMENT IN ANGOLA
Q. Mr. President, do you think that Fidel Castro is lying when he says that there's been no Cuban involvement in the recent invasion of Zaire? And since you made the charge, contrary to Castro's word, do you have proof that he did not attempt to restrain the rebels?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't really desire to get into a public dispute with Mr. Castro through the news media. The facts are these: In Zaire, the Cubans now have more than 20,000 armed troops plus other support personnel—in Angola, excuse me. They also are deeply involved in the ministries of the Angolan Government itself, and they have substantial control over the transportation facilities in Angola—the seaports, the airports, and so forth.
In the southeastern (northeastern)1 part of Angola from which the Katangan attack was launched, the Cubans have around 4,000 or more troops. They are a heavy influence, both with all personnel in Angola, including the Katangans, and also, of course, with the Neto government itself.
1 Printed in the transcript.
There's no doubt about the fact that Cuba has been involved in the training of Katangan people who did invade. We have firm proof of this fact. And the knowledge that Cuba had of the impending invasion has been admitted by Castro himself.
This was a story published, I think, in Time magazine the last week in May, and later Castro informed one of our own diplomats that he knew about the impending invasion ahead of time and that he attempted to notify President Neto in Angola and was unsuccessful. (Castro informed one of our own diplomats that he knew about the impending invasion ahead of time and that he attempted to notify President Neto in Angola and was unsuccessful, and there was a story printed in Time magazine.) 2
2 Printed in the transcript.
The fact is that Castro could have done much more, had he genuinely wanted to stop the invasion. He could have interceded with the Katangans themselves. He could certainly have imposed Cuban troops near the border, because they are spread throughout Angola, to impede the invasion. He could have notified the Zambian Government of this fact. He could have notified the Organization of African Unity. He could have notified the world at large that an invasion designed to cross and to disturb an international border was in prospect. And he did not do any of these things. At the present time, Mr. Castro has still not condemned the invasion of Zaire by the Katangan rebels. So, there is no doubt in my mind that just on the basis of these facts alone, my statement is true.
Rather than look backward, I would like very much for Mr. Castro to pledge himself and for the Neto government in Angola to pledge themselves to prevent any further crossing of the Angolan border which would permit future invasions of Zaire.
And, of course, we would also relish the withdrawal of Cuban troops in the future, both there and Ethiopia, and support for the American, British, and other efforts to bring about peace in the southern part of Africa.
Q. Would you be willing to see him on that subject?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think it's appropriate for me to see Mr. Castro now.
Q. Mr. President, Proposition 13 would appear to have sent some politicians into shock, including some in this town. You don't appear to 'be in shock, but I wonder if the California vote will have any influence on your possibly reassessing your own policies and approaches.
THE PRESIDENT. Obviously we will have to observe very carefully the developments in California in the future as the full impact of Proposition 13 is felt. It will reduce property taxes perhaps as much as 60 percent in California.
One of the reasons for the decision made by the citizens of California is that property taxes there are very high, compared to those in other parts of the Nation, most other parts of the Nation. The property valuations have increased rapidly, and the taxes levied have increased rapidly. That, combined with the well-known fact that the State government had accumulated $4 1/2 or $5 billion or so in surplus funds, I think, combined to increase the desire of California people to impose this limit on property taxes. Those factors would be unlikely to prevail in other States of the Nation at this time. But the 2-to-1 margin of approval by the California people to restrain public spending and taxation is obviously a message that's been well received and observed by all of us throughout the country. I think this is not incompatible with the fact that we want to hold down spending, we want to reduce taxes at the Federal Government level.
There will be some indirect impact on the Federal Government now and more direct influence in the future, because there's no doubt about the fact that unemployment will go up in California, as government workers are laid off because of stringent budget requirements. And, of course, our unemployment compensation payments will have to increase. Also, I think we have about 50,000 CETA jobs, comprehensive education training administration jobs worked out jointly with local governments. Many of those may be in danger.
We have no way yet to anticipate what other consequences will accrue. But all of us are concerned about the budget levels, about unnecessary spending, about more efficient operation of government, and about lower taxation. These were proposals that had already been made by us here in Washington. But I think they strengthen support now in the Congress for those considerations.
COMMUNITY SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
Q. Mr. President, the head of the Community Services Administration testified yesterday in Federal court that some of your top aides, including Frank Moore, asked the CSA to cut off funds to the Zavala County Economic Development Corporation. Why did your administration want to cut off funds to this Texas-Mexican American group?
THE PRESIDENT. I think there has been—I don't know many details about the proposal, but I do know that the Governor of Texas had complained earlier about the way the funds were managed, and this question was raised with the CSA. Later after the CSA, following an investigation, decided that some of the funding should be either cut back or terminated unless the management was improved, the people involved in the Zavala County effort tried to get the Federal Government to reverse its decision.
When that request was refused, the Zavala County officials went to court. A decision was made by Grace Olivarez, the Administrator of CSA, that the Federal Government position was the proper one. And we are prepared to go to court and to have the full information revealed to the court, and let the court decide whether it should be administered or not.
Q. I would like to follow that up.
THE PRESIDENT. Please do.
Q. Why did you claim executive privilege on the nine memos regarding that, from various aides to you and so forth?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think as a general rule, when I have a wide range of advice coming to me following the complaint of a mayor or a Governor or a State legislator or some other responsible official, when some of the complaints are based on hearsay or allegations or personalities or specific criticisms of the qualifications of administering officials, it would not be appropriate to reveal all those memos to the public.
This is something that's been honored for generations in our Government. And I think that if there was a possibility that those kind of confidential memoranda would later be made public, when they have to be very frank and open and free expressions of even contradictory views, there would be a tight reluctance on the part of my subordinates to give me free advice, because they would have to assess every document presented to me or every expression of opinion to see whether or not it could stand up to scrutiny later on for public analysis maybe 2 years later.
So, I think the confidential privilege of having my own subordinates give me free advice without their memoranda being revealed to the public is something that I would have to preserve.
Judy [Judy Woodruff, NBC News].
CUBAN AND SOVIET INVOLVEMENT IN AFRICA
Q. Mr. President, other than being critical of the Cubans and the Russians for their involvement in Africa, what can this Government do specifically to discourage any further involvement in the future? And specifically, have you made a decision about any possible retaliatory action against the Cubans, in the way of trade or travel restrictions, or against the Soviet Union because of the recent activities in Africa?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't contemplate any retaliatory action. As you know, we have a trade embargo against Cuba at this time, and we do not have diplomatic relations with Cuba. We do have a representative in Washington and in Havana that provides us communication service, if nothing else.
We are doing the best we can to acquaint the world with the hazards and the consequences of increasing involvement of the Soviets and the Cubans in Africa. I think it's accurate to say that they take advantage of local disturbances and move in with massive intrusions, both of military weapons, which contribute to further bloodshed among Africans themselves, and when they are permitted by the local government, they send in large quantities
of troops. There are now more than 20,000 troops by Cuba in Angola. This number has increased in the last 12 months. And we believe that in Ethiopia there are more than 15,000 Cuban troops there now, even though the armed combat in the Ogaden area between Somalia and Ethiopia is over.
I think drawing public opinion to this, not only in our country but around the world, has been relatively effective. We now have the prospect of a further armed outbreak between Eritrea and Ethiopia. And I would hope that our expressions of concern would induce the Cubans not to become involved in that fighting itself.
I think it's time for the Cuban troops to withdraw from Ethiopia. Ethiopia has been heavily armed now by the rapid intrusion of Soviet weapons to them after Scumalia did attack in the Ogaden area. I think Ethiopia is perfectly capable of defending themselves without Cuban troops, and it would certainly be contributory to world peace if Cuba would withdraw. But I think other than acting in a way to acquaint the world with their actions, the only other thing that we can do is, through peaceful means, to provide some strength to nations that do want to be autonomous, that do want to see African problems settled by African people themselves.
And we have provided a limited amount of economic aid, some limited military aid on occasion. The other thing that we are trying to do is involve multinational organizations to help in controlling outside intrusion into Africa.
The Organization of African Unity is a good organization, but it's been relatively reluctant in the past to deal with very controversial issues. And quite often the African nations themselves are divided on the controversial issues. The United Nations is one to whom we have turned, and we are working under the auspices of the United Nations in trying to deal with the Namibian question. I think you know that in Rhodesia and Namibia, we are working with other countries in trying to bring about majority rule and a peaceful settlement. We have had no help at all from either the Cubans or the Soviets, trying to deal with these very sensitive questions.
So, I think these brief things that I've outlined are some of the things, short of armed involvement—which we do not intend to do—to bring about some lessening of the Cuban-Soviet intrusion into Africa.
Q. I have a followup.
THE PRESIDENT. Go ahead.
Q. President Nyerere has been critical, at the same time, of our involvement in Africa. There are people in your own administration who have been critical, who think that we've made too much of the Cuban activities. Is there a possibility that all the recent criticism may in some way endanger potential resolution of other more serious problems in Africa, like Ethiopia?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think any military disturbance in Africa, when exacerbated by the intrusion of foreign troops and weapons, tends to spill over across other borders. One of the things that made it so important to draw the line on Cuba and, hopefully, the Katangans in the future, in the violation of Zairian borders, was that principle of leaving those international borders undisturbed.
I think the reason that Nyerere expressed concern was that he thought that we were supporting a so-called pan-African force, that we were developing a strike force of some kind that could be used whenever called upon to go to anywhere in Africa to try to intercede militarily to bring about peace.
This is a proposition that we have never considered. Our only involvement has been for the Shaba province in the southern part of Zaire to try to stabilize the situation there. And, as you know, we've only provided logistical support to other nations; we've not provided any troops and don't intend to. So, that's the limit of our involvement, and I don't think we'll go any further than that.
DAVID G. GARTNER
Q. Mr. President, in light of your code of ethics pledge never to appoint anyone with a conflict of interest or even the appearance of conflict, how do you justify appointing former Humphrey aide David Gartner to the commission regulating commodities, when he had accepted for his children $72,000 in stocks from a major commodities dealer, Dwayne Andreas? Did you know these facts before you made the appointment?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't.
Q. How do you justify it?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I believe that the Senate committee and the full Senate did have this information before they decided that Mr. Gartner was qualified. Also he has pledged himself not to become involved at all in the consideration of any matter that related to that particular company. So, although I didn't know about it before I submitted his name, we knew about this before the Senate committee and the Senate at large considered his appointment.
It was approved overwhelmingly, as you know.
Q. You believe it does not constitute a conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict?
THE PRESIDENT. That's correct. I think that the circumstances and the facts have been made known thoroughly, so far as I'm able to tell. In spite of this, accommodating this, the Senate did approve his appointment, and he has pledged himself not to become involved in any matter that related to that particular company.
Q. Mr. President, to get back to Proposition 13, sir, today Budget Director Mcintyre called it wishful thinking to suggest that communities in California could ask the Federal Government to bail them out of difficulties with their local payrolls and so on. How do you—there was an indication that he was speaking for you on this. Was he, and how do you feel about that? And if you were to get such requests from localities, what would you tell them?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, within the constraints of the presently existing programs for transportation, education, for air and water pollution control, crime control, and the LEAA, CETA jobs for public service and training, of course we would be glad to help the communities of California on the same basis as we help the communities around the country. And if there should evolve a crisis in a community, after careful assessment, within the bounds of the law and administrative procedures, we would obviously help them.
The Federal impact of the California decision will be felt long in the future. I think with a $5 billion surplus that presently exists in the State government for several months in the future, this can be used, as Governor Brown has very wisely proposed, to deal with those special needs.
Following that time, of course, we'll have to assess what role the Federal Government might play. But I don't think there would be any possibility of our passing a specific law just to deal with California. The reason for the interrelation on taxes, for instance, is to prevent double taxation. And I think even with the reduced taxes on property in California, the taxes, for instance, in States like Georgia or Alabama would still be quite a lot lower than those in California.
So, we still have no means, no inclination to single out California for special Federal programs just because they have lowered property taxes.
PRESIDENT'S FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES
Q. Mr. President, as a Presidential candidate you often cited the need for timely financial disclosure as a means of avoiding conflicts of interest, or appearance of it. And yet, as President, you have not yet released your income tax filing from last year, nor your 1976 nor your 1977 net worth statements, as you pledged to do. My question is, what are your plans with regard to disclosure?
THE PRESIDENT. Jody Powell now has all those data, and they are available for release. The reason we held this up is because we had an Internal Revenue Service audit of my 1975 and 1976 tax returns. I've forgotten the exact figures, but one of the years we had no change at all in the tax return. The other one, when I was Governor, I put in normal contributions as a State employee into the retirement system. When I got the money back at the end of my service as Governor, there was a $350 increase in value because of interest earned, and we did not pay income taxes on that. We owe $160 back taxes.
In the analysis of that year, however, the Internal Revenue Service found that there was owed to me from a previous year either $5,000 or $6,000—I've forgotten the exact figures—in back taxes. So, I will have to pay $160, approximately, to the IRS, and I will get a $5,000 or $6,000 refund that I had not known about. [Laughter] But that confirmation from the IRS just came to us this morning, and my wife came over at lunch and told me about it. That's what Jody has been waiting for. It's good news.
ARMS EMBARGO AGAINST TURKEY
Q. Mr. President, Turkey has openly stated that she is in a very bad situation in a military incapability. What is the alternative of the U.S. Government if the embargo is still not lifted and if Soviet Russia proposes a military aid to Turkey in this very desperate situation?
THE PRESIDENT. I would guess that Turkey would be reluctant to turn away from her historical alliance with the Western nations, those nations of NATO. Obviously we are not the only source of weapons or supplies for Turkey. And even under the present provisions of the arms embargo, the Congress last year did approve the sale, I think, of some F-4's, some fighter planes to Turkey; about $90 million worth.
Turkey has been very greatly disturbed because of the arms embargo, brought about, I think, 3 years ago by the fact that Turkey did violate the American law in using American-supplied weapons to go into Cyprus. I think that it's accurate to say that the Congress had good intentions 3 years ago when the embargo was enforced in hopes that it would have beneficial results.
The fact is, as I said earlier, it has not had beneficial results. It has driven a wedge between Greece and Turkey, between Greece and the United States, between Turkey and the United States, and it's weakened the alliance of Turkey and Greece toward NATO, and has, I think, brought into a deadlock or perpetuated a deadlock on Cyprus.
So, we've tried it; it didn't work. And my guess is that we will continue, we and the other NATO Allies, to include Turkey in all the plans—we will give them adequate supplies for their own defense within the capabilities of our nations and in compliance with the law.
My hope and my expectations are that the Congress will remove the embargo this year.
RIGHT TO PRIVACY
Q. Mr. President, on May 24, your Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Civiletti, urged Congress to pass a law that would require an American citizen to go to court to protect the privacy of his own personal records, and he said that to expect the Government to show reasonable cause to believe that a crime was involved was "just not realistic."
Now, as a leader in a world campaign to expand human rights throughout the world, how do you justify your administration's trying to punch holes into individual rights here at home?
THE PRESIDENT. My analysis of the attitude of the Attorney General is that he has been a foremost proponent of protecting individual rights. He has never deviated from this commitment so far as I know. I'm not familiar with the particular case to which you refer, and I'm hesitant to comment on it without being more thoroughly familiar with it. But if you would provide it to the Press Secretary, I'll be glad to try to answer it more definitively.
Q. Mr. President, Congressman Don Edwards has suggested that the administration file a friend of the court brief for the Wilmington 10, since no action has been taken on the part of the administration. Do you plan to follow up with a court brief, and if not, why?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. As you recognize, the case has been in the past in the Federal court. My understanding is that this group through their attorneys have now filed in the Federal court for some relief. And I think the Attorney General in the past, the Justice Department has inquired into the proper treatment of these defendants. But I don't believe that the Attorney General has ally intention that—certainly that he's relayed to me—of joining in as a party to the Wilmington 10's application in court.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR NEW YORK CITY
Q. Mr. President, tomorrow the Senate Banking Committee will begin to consider the proposal you made to provide long-term Federal loans for New York City. How do you feel about the statements by some Senators that the banks and the unions in the city have not done enough and actually should be required to do more as a condition for further Federal aid, and about the apprehension by some Senators that this would allow excess spending by other cities?
THE PRESIDENT. My own belief is that the requirements placed on New York City, through their own volition and also because of the requests of the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Blumenthal, are adequate. And the House of Representatives considered this matter very carefully and voted with a margin, I think, of more than 90 votes to go along with both short-term financing and also long-term financing.
My own belief is that the long-term financing is preferable. This would not endanger the Federal Government at all. We would not lose a penny on the guarantee of those loans; in fact, we would gain somewhat from interest paid by New York City on the guaranteed loans of the Federal Government. And I think it would remove the requirement that New York City act on an emergency basis in just 2 or 3 years at the most, when if they were given 7 or 8 years to work out of their problems, with careful constraints and monitoring of their actions, this would be a much more businesslike approach.
It would also let the labor unions, with their retirement funds, private investors, the banks, and others in New York, the sale of bonds themselves, which would be guaranteed by the Federal Government, and action by local and State officials to be much more carefully planned and much more harmonious.
So, for all practical purposes that I have been able to consider, I think that the long-range guarantee of those borrowed funds, those debts of New York City, is the best approach. My hope is that even though the committee may be much more averse to the proposal, that on the Senate floor itself, that the vote will be favorable and that the Senate will emulate what the House has done and approve those loan guarantees for New York City.
HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE SOVIET UNION
Q. In addition to the impending trial of Anatoly Shcharanskiy, who you have very vigorously denied was a CIA agent or had any intelligence functions, the Soviets have now arrested and imprisoned Vladimir Slepak, who you cabled in a telegram November 1976 you would make a cardinal element of your policy when you were elected, his defense and the defense of other Soviets who have been accused.
Do you regard the arrest of Mr. Slepak and some of the other Soviet actions in this field as a personal response to your human rights campaign?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I don't believe it's a personal response to a campaign that I have launched on human rights. I think the fact of the matter is, long before I came in office, the Soviet Union voluntarily signed the agreement at Helsinki, the last portion of which guaranteed certain basic civil rights within the boundaries of individual nations.
It's not as though other nations were intruding into the internal affairs of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union voluntarily agreed to meet certain standards on the protection of the rights of its own citizens. There was set up a group within the Soviet Union and other countries to monitor compliance with the agreement, which the Soviets themselves had signed, and a substantial portion of that group in the Soviet Union have now been either harassed or imprisoned or tried, and I think this is something that is continuing.
I don't believe that it's an attack on me. 1 think it's a matter, as I said in my speech in Annapolis, of whether or not the Soviet Union can stand internal dissension and monitoring of the actions of the government by private citizens or private citizens groups.
I have expressed in the strongest possible terms, both publicly and through diplomatic channels, our concern about the actions of the Soviet Government. And I believe that even though they obviously have a right to make decisions within their own country, this works against the best interests of harmony and peace between the Soviet Union and other countries, because they look with concern upon the attitude of the Soviet Union towards its own citizens and they see in these actions a violation of an agreement, a solemn agreement, which the Soviet Union voluntarily signed.
Q. May I follow that up, Mr. President? Some of the people who have been arrested have said you have ceased to talk about particular cases, that you just speak now about human rights in general and that has left them victim to the Soviet crackdown.
Have you, in fact, ceased to come to the defense of people like Mr. Slepak and Mr. Shcharanskiy?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you just mentioned three cases, and—maybe you mentioned four. I've commented on all of those, and I think that it's important for the world to monitor what goes on in the Soviet Union. I have not avoided a reference both publicly and privately to the Soviet Union on specific cases, and I intend to continue to do so.
FRANK CORMIER [Associated Press]. Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much.