Brunswick, Georgia Exchange With Reporters at the Brunswick Airport Following Mrs. Carter's Departure.
REPORTER. Mr. President, what are you going to tell about the Cuban policy?
THE PRESIDENT. I think it's obvious that we want to have good relations with Cuba. We haven't had any firm indication yet that Castro wants to normalize relations with us. But I think we will have indications in the next few weeks of strengthened diplomatic relations with Cuba, far short of recognition.
Q. Despite their sending military advisers to Ethiopia? Does that bother you at all?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, obviously, it would he better for the peace of Africa if other nations would not send troops and military forces into Africa.
Cuba still has almost 15,000 troops in Angola. They have recently sent about 50 military advisers into Ethiopia. And they have, in addition to that, people in Mozambique and 8 or 10 other countries, sometimes just three or four, sometimes a larger number.
We would like very much for Cuba to refrain from this intrusion into African affairs in a military way. Obviously, this is one of the problems that Cuba creates.
Another major concern of ours is the large number of political prisoners in Cuba, between 15,000 and 20,000. We see, though that it would be better for our hemisphere if Cuba did have good relations with the other nations here. And this is something that we hope to see in the future.
Q. What do you mean by this "in a few weeks?" What's going to happen?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we don't know for sure, but I think we've demonstrated an ability to work with Cuba on the fisheries agreement and also on the maritime agreement. We have some hopes that there will be other similar kinds of small steps toward an increased ability to communicate and to discuss mutual concerns. It would be a mistake to be too optimistic about it.
Q. Mr. President, how long will it be, do you think, before the trade embargo finally comes to an end?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't have any way to know.
Q. How are you and Amy going to get along for the next 2 weeks? [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. I'm not accustomed to my wife being gone. I feel lonesome already. She will be gone 12 days. She will be sending back messages at least once a day through diplomatic channels. We will stay very close to one another that way. I don't like for Rosalynn to 'be gone.
Q. How do you account for the difference in view between your optimism and Brezhnev's pessimism on SALT?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think I've already discussed this adequately. It's the same difference that existed between Gromyko and Vance, both describing the same circumstances.
I think, compared to what the Soviets indicated in Moscow, it was a great step forward. We felt, for a change, that they genuinely wanted to have discussions leading to an agreement. And they didn't exhibit this inclination when we sent Cy Vance to Moscow.
So, in that way it was an improvement. But it again would be a mistake to underestimate the great differences that exist between us.
The main thing they have that concerns us is the increasing reliance on very large missiles with multiple warheads. And the thing that we have that concerns them obviously is the capability to deploy large numbers of cruise missiles at an early date.
We hope to--we'll be very persistent about it without being in a hurry. I don't feel constrained every time we have a meeting with the Soviets to sign some kind of an agreement just to be signing something. But they know very clearly, I think, our own position now, and we know their position much more clearly than we did before the Geneva meeting.
My goals have not changed and won't change. We want to do everything we can to reduce dependence on atomic weapons. We'll be trying to induce the Soviets to join with us in this purpose.
Q. Do you still have hopes of meeting Brezhnev in late September?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we have never put a date. I think that we certainly would keep that hope alive when we see how Gromyko and Vance get along at their next meeting. So, I think we might make a decision on a possible meeting with me and Mr. Brezhnev. But that's not sure yet.
Q. At the next meeting?
THE PRESIDENT. It's hard to say.
Q. What are you going to do with the rest of the day?
THE PRESIDENT. I have got about a half day's hard work to do, paperwork. I have been putting it off until after Rosalynn left. She has been studying for several weeks in meetings with State and National Security Council experts on Latin America. She has also read volumes of special briefing papers on the different countries. And she had accumulated a group of questions in a notebook. And so, last night she and I went over those questions and I gave her the special perspective of a President. [Laughter]
Q. Did you answer them all?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I tell you, she knows more about a lot of those countries than I do, their history and their particular attitude toward multinational treaty arrangements, and so forth. She has really done a lot of homework. And I haven't specialized on Latin America yet, and she has.
I will see you all later.
Note: The exchange began at 10 a.m. at the Brunswick Golden Isles Glynco Jetport.
Jimmy Carter, Brunswick, Georgia Exchange With Reporters at the Brunswick Airport Following Mrs. Carter's Departure. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243330