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Informal Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Yuriy and Tanya Zieman

October 05, 1988

The President. Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we just wanted to come out here for a few seconds and introduce our friends to you—newcomers to our country—the Zieman family and their daughter and son-in-law, who have been living in America. And now the family is reunited. They came out of the Soviet Union and are reunited here in the United States, and we're very happy to have them with us.

Hostages in Lebanon

Q. Mr. President, if we're not negotiating with the Iranians as they claim, what do you think their motive is for saying that there are negotiations on the hostages ongoing?

The President. I've never been able to explain, Bill [Bill Plante, CBS News], the Iranians and what their strategies are and what they do. But obviously we could not do any negotiating with them unless and until the hostages are released.

U.S. Intelligence Activities

Q. Mr. President, did you sign two orders, directive intelligence orders, which appeared to circumvent the assassination directive—ban on assassinations?

The President. Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], I saw that, and I was quite upset by it because—no, back in 1981, I issued a directive that the United States would not permit assassinating anyone in any of the things that we were doing. And that continues to this day.

Q. So, what was the meaning then of that language which says that good faith would not—that nothing would be done to someone who ended up killing someone in good faith? What was the meaning of that language?

The President. I don't know what language you're talking about. I'd have to review it. But I do know that following that—reaffirmed that our conduct would be governed by the directive [Executive Order 12333] that I had.—

Q. Why did you rescind the directives?

The President. I didn't rescind it.

Q. — '84 and '85?

The President. Still in effect.

Hostages in Lebanon

Q. Mr. President, has Mr. Singh given the U.S. any encouragement that the other hostages may be coming out soon?

The President. I have heard or been told nothing that would indicate that. We desperately are hoping and continuing to try.

Note: The President spoke at 3:52 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Mithileshwar Singh was the chairman of Beirut University College's business administration department, who was kidnaped by the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine on January 24, 1987. Mr. Singh was released on October 3, 1988.

Ronald Reagan, Informal Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Yuriy and Tanya Zieman Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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