The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Jimmy Carter
The President's News Conference
May 12, 1977
TRIP TO EUROPE

THE PRESIDENT. I have a very brief statement to make--to begin with, just an overview of what I consider to be the results of our trip to Europe, and then I will be glad to answer whatever questions you might have.

This was the first trip I've taken outside of our country since I became President. It was a very full few days. I tried to be well prepared. And I think that I can report substantial success, not particularly because of my own participation but because there was, I believe, a renewed spirit of hope and confidence engendered among all of us who participated as we look to the future in our ideological competition with the Eastern Communists and Socialist countries, compared to our own in the Western democracies, now including Japan.

I think there is a sense, a quiet sense that we have justified reasons for that confidence, although we sometimes suffer a temporary discomfiture in unemployment, inflation, and a sense that the Soviets perhaps are increasing their military strength.

I think there is now a much clearer picture that we are able to compete and that that competition must be conducted under peaceful circumstances.

There is a difference. We have strong systems of government. For the first time since NATO was begun many years ago, all the participating countries are democracies.

We are very proud of the new emergence of Spain and Portugal with the democratic system of government. And I think there is a sense to conclude that in a test of will, of confidence, of cooperation, that when men and women in our societies are free, when we can make our own decisions, choose our own governments, that gives us an inherent advantage.

There was a closeness among us when we adjourned that I thought was very encouraging, a better understanding.

I personally had private conversations with the leaders of 16 or 17 different countries. I tried to study, ahead of time, what their special problems were and what their opportunities were for increased friendship with us. And I think we were successful.

We recommitted our commitment to NATO. We called on a reanalysis of what NATO will be during the 1980's, a new study of East-West relationships, and a better way to save money, and to make a NATO commitment more effective with standardization of weapons.

While there, I took a quick trip to Geneva to meet President Asad of Syria--a continuing process in my own life as President--to study the special attitudes toward a possible alleviation of the Middle Eastern dispute this year. And hopefully, after the Israeli elections this month, we can have the new leader of the Israeli Government come back to meet with me, as Prime Minister Rabin did earlier this year.

So, these are the things that we attempted. I think our successes were well publicized, but it was a joint success and I believe that we understand each other better. There's a renewed strength and commitment in the democratic societies who are our friends and allies.

Ms. Thomas [Helen Thomas, United Press International].

QUESTIONS
THE MIDDLE EAST

Q. Mr. President, do you think that Israel should accept the Palestinian homeland if the Palestinians or PLO accept the fact of Israel? And also, as a result of your talks today, are you persuaded that we should share arms technology and coproduction with Israel?

THE PRESIDENT. The answer to both those questions is yes. I don't think that there can be any reasonable hope for a settlement of the Middle Eastern question, which has been extant now on a continuing basis now for more than 29 years, without a homeland for the Palestinians. The exact definition of what that homeland might be, the degree of independence of the Palestinian entity, its relationship with Jordan, or perhaps Syria and others, the geographical boundaries of it, all have to be worked out by the parties involved. But for the Palestinians to have a homeland and for the refugee question to be resolved, is obviously of crucial importance.

We have a special relationship with Israel. It's absolutely crucial that no one in our country or around the world ever doubt that our number one commitment in the Middle East is to protect the right of Israel to exist, to exist permanently, and to exist in peace. It's a special relationship.

Although I've met with the leaders of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and had long hours of discussion, I never found any of those Arab leaders who objected to that special commitment of ours to the protection of the integrity of Israel.

And obviously, part of that is to make sure that Israel has adequate means to protect themselves without military involvement of the United States. I have no objection about this arrangement. I'm proud of it. And it will be permanent as long as I'm in office.

DOMESTIC POLICY

Q. Mr. President, while you were away, a number of liberal Democrats--thinking especially of Senator McGovern--suggested that your economic policies are hard to differentiate from those of your Republican predecessor. What's your response to that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would not refer to Senator McGovern as "a number of liberal Democrats." [Laughter]

I don't know that Senator McGovern's speech to the ADA was mirrored in the objections by any other Democrats. Obviously, we have a firm belief in the character of the Democratic Party, that we're the ones who are responsible more than any other party in this country's existence for the provision of jobs for our people, a better life for those who are afflicted, who are poor, who are disadvantaged, who need education and need security in their old age. These kinds of programs have been put forward by me to the Congress in a very strong and continuing way.

I will make one of my few speeches later on this month in California to a labor convention. And I will try to spell out in kind of an inventory fashion what we have proposed and what we do intend to do this year. But I'm very proud of what has been done up to date and the attitude of Congress.

Tomorrow, I'll be signing a $4 billion jobs bill. Appropriations have already been approved for countercyclical help for local governments. We are providing over 1 million jobs for young people this summer. We proposed to the Congress a resolution of the very serious question involving the integrity of the social security system. We've asked for a control of the runaway costs of people to get health care in hospitals. These are just the first steps toward a continuing commitment of my own administration.

I do not consider these moves--to help people to go back to work and have a good life--to be incompatible with a balanced 'budget before my own term of office is over. We consider the realization of the objective of a balanced budget to be tied very closely with the right of people to have a job.

If we're going to have high unemployment, we're not going to have a balanced budget. So, I don't think the criticism was justified, and I'm very thankful it was confined to one person.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Q. May I get back briefly to Helen's question? It seemed to us, traveling with you, that you and the people in your party were a 'bit more upbeat on the question of the Middle East this week than perhaps a couple weeks ago after the Hussein visit. I just wonder, do you have indications now that the Palestinians are ready to recognize the right of Israel to exist? And also, .do you have--in reference to the question Helen brought up--do you have some indication that Israel is ready to recognize the need for a Palestinian homeland?

THE PRESIDENT. We have had no contact with the Palestinians, with PLO. But I have concluded meetings with the Prime Minister of Israel, the President of Egypt, the President of Syria, and the King of Jordan. At the conclusion of this series of meetings, I feel 'better than I did before. At the end of the Hussein meeting my own hopes were improved.

I don't want to mislead anyone. The chances for Middle Eastern peace are still very much in doubt. We have a long way to go. But I do believe that there's a chance that the Palestinians might make moves to recognize the right of Israel to exist. And if so, this would remove one of the major obstacles toward further progress.

Our Government, before I became President, promised the Israeli Government that we would not recognize the PLO by direct conversations or negotiations, as long as the PLO continued to espouse the commitment that Israel had to be destroyed.

I would like to see this resolved. There's a chance that it will be done. We are trying to add our efforts to bring this about. But I have no assurance that it will be accomplished.

ILLEGAL GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES

Q. Mr. President, a former FBI official now faces prosecution for his role in allegedly ordering illegal FBI surveillance on various groups. I'm curious, on the basis of your information, can you tell us whether you feel that Mr. Kearney does in fact deserve to be prosecuted, and whether or not you feel that other FBI officials, present or former, should face similar prosecutions for similar alleged actions?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you are presupposing guilt before a trial. It's obvious to me that members of the Government, in the military, the CIA and the FBI and the Oval Office, if a crime is committed, need to have that crime investigated. And if they're determined to be guilty, they should be punished. No special excuse should be given for officials in the FBI. I don't know the details of the case. I've not been briefed on it and have no reason to be. I have encouraged Attorney General Griffin Bell, who needs no encouragement, to enforce the law enthusiastically.

And there's been a great deal of pressure put on Griffin Bell not to prosecute this case or to continue with the investigation of the case. I think he's doing the right thing. But I don't want to try to guess what the outcome of the investigation or the possible trial might be.

PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

Q. Mr. President, one of your predecessors is going on television tonight to discuss his foreign policy, Mr. Nixon, and I suspect he'll talk a great deal about China.

Inasmuch as it's been 5 years since the Shanghai Communiqué was signed, I was wondering if you have a target date within your administration for full diplomatic recognition of the People's Republic of China? Do you have a target date? Will it come within your first administration, and if you don't have a target date, what's the problem?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's very difficult for me to set a target date, because this is a two-way negotiation. We have commenced discussions with the Chinese Government to resolve the first obstacle, and that is the claims settlement.

Long years ago, we had roughly $190 million worth of American property and other goods confiscated by the Mao Tse-tung government. We in our country confiscated in return about $80 million, I believe, primarily in Chinese bank deposits. We've never been able to work out those differing claims. That would be the first step.

We have espoused, and I have renewed my commitment to the Shanghai Communiqué, which says that there's just one China. We didn't say which one, and I think that we have moved--[laughter]and neither did anyone else--we have moved, I think, to strengthen our ties with the People's Republic of China.

I have met personally with Ambassador Huang. Cy Vance has met several times with him. We've sent a delegation of Congress Members over there, along with my own son, as a demonstration or gesture of friendship. They were well received. We haven chosen one of the good friends of mine and a great leader, Leonard Woodcock, who we expect to .be the next Ambassador to the People's Republic of China and I would like to see progress made toward normalization of relationships.

The one obstacle, major obstacle, obviously, is the relationship we've always had with Taiwan. We don't want to see the Taiwanese people punished or attacked. And if we can resolve the major difficulty, I would move expeditiously to normalizing relationships with China. But I can't put a time limit on it.

FOREIGN TRAVEL PLANS

Q. Mr. President, your trip to Europe was judged to be a great success. We know that you've been invited to Paris in the fall by President d'Estaing. When will you be going back to Europe, or to any other foreign country?

THE PRESIDENT. I've not decided definitely to go to France. President Valery Giscard d'Estaing did invite me to come, and if the Congress is able to get through with its work as presently scheduled, sometime in October, then that would make it possible for me perhaps to take another trip at the end of this year. But I have not decided to do that yet.

I don't know what the prospects of the trip would be. I don't know what the itinerary would be, and it's still very much in doubt.

WELFARE REFORM

Q. Mr. President, if the welfare mess is as bad as you have said it is, why are we going to have to wait until 1981, in your second term, to see it cured?

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you for your comments. [Laughter] I don't think that's what we have in mind at all. We expect to propose a legislative package to the Congress before the summer home work session, which commences in August.

I would hope that the Congress could pass the new welfare legislation early next year, and then we'll immediately start to implement it.

It took us 2 years to implement the recent change in the welfare laws, and I think that a 3-year time for the conclusion of those changes is a very hopeful and optimistic move. But that doesn't mean that we won't initiate immediately those parts that can be done quickly. And I think that this is not a sign of discouragement, but a sign of practicality.

We are now approaching this question on a somewhat piecemeal basis. Under the general term of welfare would obviously come food stamps. We've recommended that the cash contribution to food stamps be eliminated, a great simplification process. So, I don't think anyone needs to be discouraged who is interested in welfare reform.

If everything went exactly on schedule and if we moved as expeditiously as humanly possible, that could not be completed before the time that I designated.

THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

Q. Mr. President, Pat Caddell, your pollster in the campaign, wrote a memo to you in December. And I'd like to ask you about two of his assertions. The first is that some elements of the Democratic Party are greater adversaries, potentially, of your administration politically than the Republicans. He mentioned traditional Democrats like McGovern. He called him anachronistic, and the "young turks" like Governor Brown. He said he was the most dangerous threat on the horizon in the Party.

My first question, if I may, is: Do you believe that?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I don't see either McGovern or Governor Brown as an adversary or threat. I feel quite secure in my position. [Laughter]

The prospect of a 1980 election is something that I have not, you know, put any time on at all. That'll 'be a decision that may be made in the future. And I think that it's accurate to say--I don't remember the memorandum now in detail--but I do remember that one of the conclusions that he drew, as you so accurately pointed out on television one night, is that the best way to have favorable reaction from the American people in future elections is to do a good job in managing the Government. But I honestly don't feel threatened.

I think it's true that I have a close and friendly relationship with Governor Brown. He helped me during the campaign. My son Chip is with him today for a 4-day period to work, and my wife will be stopping by to work in California with Governor Brown on mental health when she goes to Hawaii later on this year.

I don't feel threatened and consider him a very good friend. But this is long in the future. And I think what Pat Caddell was referring to was if I should change my mind and decide to run for reelection.

THE PRESIDENT'S STYLE

Q. May I ask about the second theme, which was, you should continue a political campaign as President with such things as town meetings and all of that, and that you should really concentrate on style. He said that many people have been defeated by making the mistake of substituting substance for style. Do you agree?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I agree. I agree to this extent: When I took office, I had not won an overwhelming victory in the general election--as you know, a couple million votes. And I believe that in the last number of years, there had been a loss of confidence in our Government, both in its integrity and also in its ability and competence.

There had been a loss of confidence that the White House and Congress could work together, or that the people could have access to the decisionmaking process, absent secrecy. So, a major commitment of mine, long before this Caddell memorandum was written, was to try to restore the confidence of the people in me.

Obviously, one of those means is by frequent news conferences. Another one is by access to me in the Oval Office. Another one is the travel around our country on occasion to meet with people. And I think that this is the "style" part. I think that the walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, about which Mr. Caddell was not informed, was a good indication that I trust Washington. I didn't feel endangered, that I wanted the people to know I was one of them. I don't see anything wrong with this. I think, to the extent that I can have a good relationship with the people, it makes it easier for me to be a good President.

So, the confidence of the people in the Government is a crucial element of leadership. And the openness with which I hope that I am conducting my administration means that we don't try to cover up mistakes. And if we do make mistakes, we want them to be known. So, I think that this is a good combination of style on the one hand, which is not artificial, and substance on the other hand, which
will bear good results.

Q. Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

DOMESTIC POLICY

Q. To follow up the Frank Cormier question and your answer, you talked about providing jobs. Why aren't you able to please George Meany? What's the problem there?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know. That question can best be answered by Mr. Meany. I think it would be good for special interest groups of all kinds--labor, business, environment, and others--to cooperate and to express a partnership in things that are accomplished for the good, instead of concentrating on the negative things that fail to measure up to their own very high expectations.

I think the package of proposals that we put forward are unexcelled, even going back to the early days of Lyndon Johnson. And as I say, I'll make a good summary of these proposals, which I think will be realized, at a speech later on this month. Mr. Meany feels that my level of minimum wage is too low. He feels that the $4 billion public works proposal that Congress has already approved is too little. He feels that I should have put tight constraints against the importation of color television sets, sugar, shoes. I think I've worked out a good balance on those proposals.

So, the fact that he doesn't approve of everything I 'do doesn't mean we have any personal disruption of our communication and mutual respect.

Q. Are you also saying to Mr. Cormier that you see no danger of losing the liberals?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there's always that danger. I think one of the characteristics of some liberals is that they are very difficult to please. [Laughter] And when some of the groups make a list of things that they want, if they get 95 percent of what they want they can only remember the other 5 percent. [Laughter]

And this is something which I don't particularly deplore but which I do recognize. There's been no disruption of my relationship with any of these groups. And I think my record has been and will be able to bear their scrutiny.

Q. Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes?

A7E AIRCRAFT

Q. In your defense ,budget, you recommended deleting all the funds for the A7E light attack aircraft. The House has restored funds for 6 A7E's and the Senate has restored funds, or their committees have restored funds, for 12 A7E's. What's your reaction to that?

THE PRESIDENT. The A7, in my opinion, ought not to be built any longer, except to meet present contractual agreements. It's a plane that's obsolescent at best. There is no need in my opinion for a continued purchase of this plane. This is a matter for me and the Congress to decide mutually, of course, in the ultimate case.

But my recommendation not to order new A7's was based on the fact we have superior airplanes now to replace it. And as far as our return on very scarce military dollars invested, it was not the best investment to make.

Q. Mr. President, following on that question, if I could for a minute, my impression was that the replacements for the A7E's wouldn't be off the line for several years and that right now the Navy is minus about 36 A7's.

How do you feel about waiting that long for the replacement model?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I went into this very carefully and thoroughly with the Defense Department officials and with those who represent the Office of Management and Budget, before my own recommendation was made to the Congress. I think I made the right decision, the right recommendation. And I don't believe that our defense capability will be damaged by not going ahead in acquiring this plane, which is becoming too obsolescent to be the best investment.

WHITE HOUSE STAFF SALARIES

Q. Mr. President, given your concern about inflation and for economy in Government, how do you justify pay raises up to $11,000 for some of your senior staff aides after they've been on the job only 2 months?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I had a substantial increase in my salary the first day I went into office. [Laughter] I think I earn it. These men and women on my staff are not overpaid. I don't think the Congress is overpaid nor do I think that the District Judges and the judiciary are overpaid. My staff members did not have their salaries raised to the same level even as the Members of Congress and the judiciary, which was their choice, not mine. Their increase in salary, I think, was one that was justified, and I don't have any apology to make for it. They work extraordinarily long hours, as do some of you, and I think the people of our country are getting a good return on their salary investment in my staff.

FOREIGN ARMS SALES

Q. Mr. President, about a month ago you got recommendations on your desk for a new weapons sales policy for overseas, and Secretary Vance has explained that to some members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Did you explain that policy to the other leaders in London that you met with, and will Israel get any kind of special treatment? Will there be a class of countries that get special treatment?

THE PRESIDENT. I did explain it to the other leaders in London--to some of the other leaders, not all of them, because I met with so many. And the second answer is that Israel will get special treatment. We have a certain small group of nations who, because of long-standing historical commitments of Presidents, Congress, and the American people, do have a special relationship with our Government.

In coproduction--that's when we share responsibilities for the production of a certain weapons system or the sale of the advanced weapons systems--Israel is one of those countries. Yes.

TAX PROPOSALS

Q. Mr. President, there have been reports that your administration is considering significant tax cuts for business in your tax reform package. What is your thinking along this line?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not had a chance yet to meet with the specialists who are working on the overall tax proposal. I've been working on the summit and the welfare proposal and others--and social security and so forth.

This week will be the first time that I will have met with them at all--that'll be tomorrow--to go over the general framework. I think it would be erroneous to presume, however, that the major tax reductions, if any, would fall to the business community. I'm much more concerned about alleviating the tax burdens on people who are working families and those that I think have been paying too much. But there might be a change in the tax structure relating to business.

But I can't answer your question because I have not yet decided. But I think in general, there would be a well-balanced assessment of tax burden, and I would certainly not single out business for special tax credits.

Q. Mr. President, is it your assumption that the tax reform package would result overall in a decrease in revenues?

THE PRESIDENT. No. My hope is that we can make the analysis based on no change in revenue, that its primary purpose can be increased equity or fairness and much greater simplicity. Then, if we do have an opportunity to reduce taxes, they will be done one increment at a time, and the decreases in tax payments will be allotted where they're needed, both to sell the package to Congress and to the people, and to provide increased fairness in the overall concept.

FRANK CORMIER [Associated Press]. Thank you, Mr. President.

[President Carter's seventh news conference began at 2:30 p.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building and was broadcast live on radio and television. Following the news conference, the President remained in the room to answer questions from reporters on an informal basis, as follows:]

Q. Have you got any jet lag?

THE PRESIDENT. I've gotten over it. I went to see "The Barber of Seville" last night. It was a remarkable performance. Beverly Sills was nice enough to help me out, you know, with the pre-inauguration program. She performed without asking for any kind of pay. And I want to go see her.

But I feel pretty good. I'm going to get a longer night's sleep tonight.

Q. We were all zonked out. How did you have the energy to go see the opera last night?

THE PRESIDENT. I have one ability to change from one time zone to another, even with a 5-hour difference. When I got to London for instance--on the way over, I went to bed at 11:30 at night, London time, which was 6:30 Washington time. And I would guess that you did not do the same.

Q. No. [Laughter] Mr. President, you talked about coverups and confidence in your formal portion of the news conference. Could you give us your reaction to the Nixon television appearances?

THE PRESIDENT. I've only seen a small part of the first one. I saw part of the first part, and then the latter part of it. It really didn't change my opinion about President Nixon. I personally think that he did violate the law. I think he did commit impeachable offenses. I think that he doesn't think he did. And I noticed in the post-program public opinion polls that most of the people do agree with what I've just said.

Q. We can't hear you back here.

Q. Mr. President, you did not believe him, then?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as I say, I think he was guilty of impeachable offenses. But I believe that he doesn't think he was. I think he has rationalized in his own mind that he did all these things for the benefit of his staff members, and so forth, and that he didn't have any criminal intent. I think he's mistaken, but I'm sure it's possible for any human being to rationalize their own actions, particularly in months afterwards.

Q. Can you tell us about the sudden resurgence of Watergate interest in the country? Why is the country suddenly interested in this again?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it's completely attributable to that series of television programs.

Q. Do you think it's all right to go ahead with them, and will you be watching "Foreign Policy" tonight, for example?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I won't.

Q. Why? Don't you think you will learn anything from it?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I just have some other things I've got to do. [Laughter]

Q. We ran into a lot of people who saw the program in Great Britain. There seemed to be a lot of interest in the Nixon program. I just wondered, did any of the other people that you met with mention it at all or was there any talk about it?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Several of the European leaders mentioned it. And I would say that most of their comments were deploring the resurrection of it.

Q. What do you mean, what he had to say or that---

Q. The resurrection of Watergate?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. It was quite a blow to Europe, I think, to see our own country besmirched with the Watergate revelations, and I think they now are glad to see it over and just did not want to see the whole subject resurrected again. But I don't think this is going to do any serious damage.

Q. Didn't any of them tell you they thought he was really just a victim of politics?

THE PRESIDENT. No, they didn't.

Q. Were they critical of him for bringing it up?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think so. They just deplored it. I don't mean that they were

Q. He's making a lot of money off of it.

THE PRESIDENT. I know.

Q. Do you approve of that part of the whole thing, of---

Q. The selling of the ex-President

Q. Selling of the Government?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you know, I don't want to get in the position of condemning Mr. Nixon for what he does now.

Q. Are you starting your memoirs? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. [Laughing] I don't think anybody would pay for them.

Q. Did you get a taste for foreign now, after you told us coming over you didn't think much of traveling away from: Washington now? Now there is France, Geneva.

Q. Paris.

Q. Did you get bitten by meeting with the leaders of the free world?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope not. [Laughter]

Q. Did you feel like you were back on the campaign up in Newcastle?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I did.

Q. It looked like it.

Q. Somebody said Hamilton Jordan was doing voter profiles. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that was really a good trip, I think.

Q. Where did you get the "Ha'way- tha-lads" line? Who told you about that?

THE PRESIDENT. The Prime Minister.

Q. Did he? On the way up?

THE PRESIDENT. After we got up there.

Q. And it was your idea to use it.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Ham Jordan was quoted as saying that he was surprised, even knowing the power of the Presidency, how much impact it had abroad. Did you find that same reaction?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I really think it was really more of an expression of friendship and confidence in our Nation and its position as a bulwark that's unchanged within the Democratic societal structure. There's a great doubt and a lack of confidence among many of the European communities.

The USIA does public opinion polls and I have access to them. And I think just the fact that the people see that our own country is so strong and so permanent and so able and so deeply committed to European friendship was the cause of the outpouring of expression of support.

Also, Newcastle is an area that's quite often ignored in the political processes. And I think the fact that a President did go up to that relatively isolated community was appreciated by them. So, I was really pleased with it. But the main sense I had was one of intensely strong feelings of appreciation, of friendship and kinship among them and us.

Q. We thought it had something to do with the fact Callaghan--that was one of the few areas he hung onto or his party hung onto. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as a matter of fact, I think the Labor Government lost every county in Great Britain except Tyne and Wear, which is where Newcastle was. If I had gone there a week earlier, tie might have lost it, too. [Laughter]

Q. For those of us who sit in the rear, I wonder if you would raise your sights the next time?

Q. Yes, please.

THE PRESIDENT. Okay. I promise.

Q. Hold on there.

THE PRESIDENT. I really need to go.

Q. Mr. President, would you please comment about your meeting with Prime Minister Demirel? Did you find any solutions in achieving some proposal to the strained Turkish-American relations in the last few years?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't have time to get into that subject deeply. But I can say this: Both Demirel and Caramanlis, with whom I met the same morning, expressed their complete commitment to seek and to find a peaceful solution of the differences between them and the Aegean Sea.

When I left those meetings at the American Embassy residence and arrived for the NATO conference, I found Prime Minister Demirel and Prime Minister Caramanlis talking to each other with their hand on one another's shoulder, as though they were trying to resolve their differences. So although Turkey has been very disappointed at our inability to have passed in the Congress the mutual defense agreement, I do believe that they appreciated the increase in the authorization for military sales by $50 million. And I think I let Mr. Demirel and also Caramanlis understand that to the American public, a resolution of the Cyprus question is of supreme importance to us and interest to us.

They feel that the Aegean Sea is the more important of the two questions, because of the actual threat to peace, the fact that war might 'begin. But I was pleased.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

Q. Mr. President, is there any chance to have the PLO office in Washington?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know.

Citation: Jimmy Carter: "The President's News Conference", May 12, 1977. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=7495.
 
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