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Informal Exchange With Reporters Following Meetings Between President Carter and President Perez in Caracas, Venezuela

March 28, 1978

PRESIDENT CARTER. We signed agreements this afternoon between Venezuela and the United States which determined the maritime boundaries between ourselves and Venezuela.

This is the first agreement that Venezuela has signed with any other country. And the next step would be to reach an agreement on fishing rights between our two countries and the marine areas that we both control.

We also signed a very important agreement between ourselves and Venezuela to control narcotics. We have an increasing problem between South America and North America in the shipment of narcotics between the two continents, and we have already begun to cooperate very closely between our two countries to control these illegal shipments.

I might say that between the United States and Venezuela there are very few differences. I am blessed by having a friend in President Perez with great experience in international affairs and also a great interest in the affairs of the world.

He also has a different perspective from the one that the President of the United States might have, and he has been a very good counselor for me in understanding the relationships that exist between the developed, industrial nations of the world on the one hand and the developing nations on the other.

So, we just expressed this afternoon new agreements that typify the good relations between us and the people of Venezuela.

Q. Do you think that the trade laws that affect foreign trade in our country might be derelict by the Congress of the United States?

PRESIDENT CARTER. Of course, we already enjoy a great trade with Venezuela. We purchase from your country roughly $4 billion worth of oil and other products each year. We sell to Venezuela about $1 billion less, about $3 billion.

I would guess that in the future we would move to increase the opportunities for trade and to remove any obstacles to favored-nation status that exist.

At the present time, our laws passed by Congress prevent the preferred trading status among nations who sell large quantities of oil, because they are soon to be very rich. But this may be changed in the future, and I would be glad to see the changes made.

Q. Could we ask both of you to comment on something? The Saudis have said they cannot promise to hold down the price of oil if the U.S. dollar continues to decline. Did the two of you discuss this today? And what is your understanding of President Perez' position on this?

PRESIDENT CARTER. I might add that this afternoon we limited our discussions to political matters and to matters of bilateral nature and also international affairs.

Tomorrow morning we will continue our discussions, and they will be devoted to economic matters, including, of course, the value of the dollar, the price of oil, and other similar subjects. We have not yet discussed those subjects.

Q. Mr. President, did both of you discuss the question of human rights in a general way, and specifically, was there any discussion of criticism concerning the situation in Nicaragua and our position as opposed to the Venezuelan position?

PRESIDENT CARTER. It doesn't take long to discuss the question of human rights with the Venezuelan leaders, because we are in complete harmony on this subject.

I would say that Venezuela took a very early and very strong position on human rights, which we later adopted as our own. And we have worked closely with them, in the Organization of American States and individually with countries where human rights were threatened, to bring about a realization of those hopes that we both share.

We have had discussion about the situation in Nicaragua not only this afternoon, but President Perez and I have exchanged correspondence continually about it, and several letters.

I have derived a great benefit from his advice. We are both concerned about the situation in Nicaragua, and we both feel that a delegation from the United Nations or the OAS should be welcomed into Nicaragua, and other countries where human rights are threatened, to provide the facts to the outside world.

We have a policy in our country, which I am insistent in maintaining, of not intervening in the internal affairs of other nations. But we have a right to express our own selves forcefully and also to encourage action on the part of the United Nations and OAS in going into countries to determine the facts.

I am sure that President Perez would like to reply as well.

Q. Did you say also that there is no difference of opinion between the two of you on the question of Nicaragua?

PRESIDENT PEREZ. [President Perez responded in Spanish.]

PRESIDENT CARTER. Tomorrow we will make every attempt, President Perez and I, to find some differences between ourselves and between our countries that might serve to titillate the press and to make a more newsworthy story. But I think President Perez has accurately described the situation. We discussed these issues very thoroughly, and although I don't know the details of the beliefs of the officials of Venezuela, we did not detect any differences between us.
Thank you very much.

Note: The exchange began at 5:30 p.m. at La Casona.

As printed above, the item follows the White House press release.

Jimmy Carter, Informal Exchange With Reporters Following Meetings Between President Carter and President Perez in Caracas, Venezuela Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244731

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