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Interview With the President Question-and-Answer Session With Western European and Japanese Reporters.

July 11, 1978


ALASTAIR BURNET [ITN, Great Britain]. Mr. President, on the eve of your going to Europe, the Russians have put on trial for his life a man who you say is innocent. Why do you think they are trying to insult you, and what can you do for Anatoly Shcharanskiy now?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, some people allege that this is an attack on the American people or our government or on me by the Soviet Union. I don't look on it in that way. I think it's an attack on every human being who lives in the world who believes in basic human freedom and who's willing to speak for these freedoms or to fight for them. The allegation that Shcharanskiy was a spy for the United States is patently false. The Soviets know it to be false. They are prosecuting Shcharanskiy because he represents an element, a small group in the Soviet Union who are fighting for the implementation of international agreements which the Soviets themselves have signed.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Final Act of the Helsinki agreements guarantee to citizens within a country the right to emigrate, to leave the country, the right to live with their own family members, the right to speak freely and even to criticize their own government. These are the things that the Soviets are attacking in the Shcharanskiy trial, the Ginzburg trial, the Orlov trial, and others. We deplore this, the actions themselves, and the violation of agreements which the Soviets themselves freely signed.

I don't believe that this trial will arouse anything throughout the world except condemnation of the Soviet Union and deploring of this unwarranted action. I don't think it will still the dissident voices. But this is not limited to a single person, nor is it a matter between the Soviet Union and the United States. It involves the whole world. And our responsibility, I think, along with that of other people who are signers, signatories, of these agreements, is to point out the violations when they occur. And we intend to continue to do so.

MR. BURNET. That is all you intend to do?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there are other actions that are being considered, but of course, we have no mechanism by which we can interfere in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union, nor determine the outcome of the trial, nor determine the punishment, if any, which is allotted to Mr. Shcharanskiy. But we'll continue through every legitimate means to let the Soviets know of our displeasure and also to work toward the minimization of any punishment meted out to him.


JAQUES SEGUI [TV2, France]. Mr. President, let me talk about another challenge from France and Germany you have to face in Bonn at the economic summit. Does it bother you that certain European countries are actively asserting independence in economic policy?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we have always favored in the United States, certainly in my own administration, a strong Europe, strong alliances there, politically and economically. And of course, we are participants in the military alliance to protect the freedom of Europe.

We have not studied the recent agreement that apparently is being worked upon by the European nations who have been part of the so-called Snake, now possibly to include in the future other nations involving France, Italy, and Great Britain. I noticed in the news media that Italy and Great Britain have expressed some concern about it. Until we have an analysis made of the details of this proposal, I would not want to comment about its effect on our country. I don't anticipate that there would be any obvious effort to cause a decrease in the value of the dollar nor to work an adverse trade barrier against American goods. If these things should occur inadvertently, of course, then we would deplore it privately and maybe publicly, but I don't expect this to happen. So, the strengthening of the Economic Community in Europe is something that we do endorse.

MR. SEGUI. And political, too?

THE PRESIDENT. Obviously politically, too, yes.


SERGIO TELMON [RAI, Italy]. Mr. President, it is widely expected that the Europeans and the Japanese in Bonn will ask or suggest a reduction in the consumption of energy in the United States. Should the Congress fail to move on your package, what do you propose to do?

THE PRESIDENT. We discussed this subject, as you know, at the London Economic Summit, I think 14 months ago. Each one of the nations made some commitment toward goals which we would try to achieve. Our goal, as expressed, was to reduce the level of imports of oil. We've already been successful in that. The rate of importing oil in our country has dropped almost a million barrels a day. We proposed to the Congress last April a five-part energy plan. The conference committees in the Congress have now approved four of those five parts, which would encompass an additional reduction in oil imports for our country of about 2.3 million dollars (barrels a day). 1

1 Printed in the transcript.

So, we're making every effort that we can to carry out a proposal that for the first time would give our Nation a comprehensive and understandable energy policy and reduce import levels. We're trying to increase production in our own Nation. We're trying to shift to more plentiful supplies of fuel, like coal, solar energy in some instances, nuclear power. And we're also trying to increase the price of domestic supplies of gas and oil to the prevailing world market price.

I think the Congress has made great progress already. What many people in Europe don't understand is our Nation is not only a great oil consumer, but we are a great oil-producing Nation and have habitually, historically been so. So, it's a very difficult political issue to change the structure of our laws to hold down the free import for oil and to implement strict conservation measures. But I've been pleased with what the Congress has done so far.

Through administrative action, through working closely with the Congress after this year, after they pass the first series of bills, we hope to continue this progress and, in the process, to increase production in our own country to cut down the demand for imports.

I might say that so far this year the rate of oil imports has dropped also, the first 5 months of 1978. Our increase in imports has come in manufactured goods. And one of the things that we want our trade partners to do in Europe is to increase their economic growth so that they can provide a market for our products that we want to sell. And we in the past have had a much higher rate of growth than have our trading partners who will be at the summit conference.

I think with the reduction in our own rate of growth to a more moderate level, and the increased growth in some of our trading partners' countries, that this adverse trade balance can be alleviated.


HIROSHI NARITA [NHK, Japan]. Mr. President, I would like to ask a question on the dollar. In the light of the U.S. dollar's decline in these days, it is reported that at the summit meeting some other heads of government will ask the United States to stabilize and strengthen the U.S. dollars. Are you going to show them any tactical plan to protect U.S. dollars at the summit meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. The relationship between the dollar and the yen has been affected primarily by the adverse trade balance that we have with Japan. At the last summit meeting in London, for instance, we discussed the very high positive trade balance that Japan enjoyed then. The goal established by your own leaders was that this trade balance would be reduced. Instead, it's continued to go up.

I think, as the economic market leaders have recognized, the high export of Japanese goods and the relatively low imports into Japan of other goods, the yen has strengthened in comparison to other currencies, including, of course, the American dollar.

We don't anticipate intervening in the monetary markets to artificially change those basic relationships between the dollar, the yen, the deutsche mark and other currencies. But unwarranted aberrations of a transient nature we try to iron out, either by purchasing other currencies or by selling the dollar on occasion, and we cooperate with other nations as well. But the long-range trends, I think, have to be established primarily by overall market conditions, primarily trade balances. Temporary aberrations we do try to minimize.


MR. NARITA. Are you going to meet Prime Minister Fukuda at Bonn to reduce Japanese trade surplus?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. One of the things that we would like to see done is for both Japan and Germany to stimulate their own economies so that the growth might be higher and so that they might be better able to buy our own goods that we would like to sell.

Another thing that we need to do is to have a successful multilateral trade negotiation. We are very eager to see tariffs and other trade obstacles removed. So far we haven't had complete success. But to the extent that these barriers to free international commerce are maintained, it makes it much more difficult for us to alleviate these basic problems that we have in trade balances.

As I said earlier, most of our trade balance now comes from the purchase of manufactured goods, not oil. Of course, the nations like Japan and Germany, who sell a lot of manufactured goods to us, like to talk about our oil imports, but they don't deplore the fact that we also buy large quantities of manufactured goods from your country and others.

But I think over a period of time, with complete understanding of one another's problems and a commitment on the part of the leaders, political and economic leaders, both within and out of government, we can bring into more near balance these very wide differences that presently exist in the trade among the developed countries of the world.


MR. BURNET. But already, Mr. President, there are many millions of people in Europe and in America who are unemployed and are likely to stay that way. Now, if your talks fail, are we on the brink of a big recession like the 1930's?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't believe so. We analyze constantly in our country-I'm sure you do in your own countries as well—the underlying economic factors. We compare them with the factors that did exist at the time of the Great Depression and the subsequent, more moderate recessions. One of the most pervasive issues to be discussed at the London conference 14 month ago was the extremely high unemployment rate. This was the most severe problem that I faced as I left London and came back home.

I have only been in office 18 months, and we have had a net increase in jobs available in our own country of 6.4 million, an unprecedented growth in job opportunities. We've reduced the unemployment level by 1 3/4 million persons, and the unemployment rate about 2 percent, a little bit more than 2 percent.

So, we've had good success in cutting down the unemployment rate in our own country. I know that other nations have not had quite such good success yet. But our growth rate in 1977 was very high.

At the same time we were increasing employment opportunities, we also were able to buy manufactured goods from other nations. Other countries didn't grow quite so fast and couldn't buy our goods. And the present disparity in the value of the dollar and trade balances are a result of those factors.

But I don't anticipate any deterioration, further, in the economic circumstances. And if we can work in harmony with one another, try to understand both common problems and also individual, national problems, and also assess accurately how the action that we take at the summit meeting can affect other nations in the world, both those who are developed and those which are developing, I think we can act substantively to prevent a recurrence of the adverse economic circumstances, including a recession.


MR. SEGUI. Mr. President, Western solidarity is coming before or after U.S. interests?

THE PRESIDENT. I find it difficult to distinguish between the two. I think that Western solidarity is a prime requirement for the realization of United States interests. We recognize this intimate tie with both Europe, Canada, and Japan-not only economically, which is what we have been discussing, but also politically and militarily. And my assessment is that these interrelationships have improved. I don't think there's any doubt that now, compared to just a few years ago, NATO is stronger. I think the European Community is stronger. I think our relationship with both Japan and Europe simultaneously is much stronger. I think that the summit conferences that have been held already—the three summit conferences-have contributed to this progress. But I never consider the interest of the United States as being separable from the common interest or well-being of the Alliance.

MR. TELMON. Mr. President, criticism is sometimes voiced on the handling of foreign policy by your administration, especially as far as the Soviet Union is concerned-up and down, human rights, up and down also in defense spending. How can you define your stand on this matter?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I tried to express in a brief 20 or 25-minute speech at the graduation exercise in Annapolis early this year this very complicated interrelationship with the Soviet Union. We are deeply committed to detente, both we and, I believe, the Soviet Union leaders. But we think that detente has got to be both broad-based and also reciprocal. We look upon our negotiations with the Soviet Union on the reduction of nuclear weapons as being a critical matter to ourselves and to them and to the world as far as peace is concerned.

And we have never let anything interrupt our effort, which is constant, almost daily, to bring about a successful conclusion of the SALT negotiations. These are going on at this moment between Secretary Vance and Foreign Minister Gromyko, for instance, in Geneva. We are working on the comprehensive test ban. We are trying to prevent the buildup of military forces in the Indian Ocean. We are trying to prevent the development of antisatellite capability on both sides. We are trying also to bring about a successful conclusion of the long dormant mutual and balanced force reduction talks in Vienna.

So, when matters concern mutual security plus matters of common benefit, like increased trade, we cooperate with the Soviets in an enthusiastic and determined fashion.

There are also differences between us and the Soviet Union. We have different forms of government. And I think now and definitely in the future we are going to be competitive with the Soviet Union. We believe in encouraging peace, nonintrusion in the affairs of other governments, an adherence to common agreements on the protection of basic human rights, complete freedom of determination of all nations of their own government, democratic principles. These things are opposed by the Soviet Union. They have a different philosophy of life. We have to recognize these differences.

We don't fear the competition. We are determined to meet the competition openly and appropriately, honestly and enthusiastically again. So, there's a combination there of cooperation, whenever possible, and we hope to expand the areas within which we can cooperate and to meet the competition of the Soviet Union when it's inevitable.

Overriding this is the requirement that we maintain security—of our own Nation, the security of our allies in Europe and in Japan. And we would consider any threat against Western Europe or Japan to be the same as a threat against our own territory.

So, these relationships are very complicated, and I've tried to describe them as best I can in just a few minutes.


MR. SEGUI. Mr. President, concerning Africa, for instance, and competition, and concerning the French involvement and the role of France in Africa, do you guess now, in the future, if there is a future crisis again in Africa, then Western shall have to stay in Africa or not? I mean, Western countries, the role of Western countries is essential or not in Africa?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I think it's essential. As you know, some of the European nations have had a longstanding relationship in Africa, both as colonial powers and subsequent to that as very interested trade partners with large numbers of their own national citizens living within those countries—France and the Francophone countries, Germany, for instance, in Namibia, and so forth. We are working to try to resolve peacefully the threatening dispute areas.

We are cooperating with the British, for instance, in trying to solve the Rhodesian problem, to bring about majority rule in Rhodesia under a democratic form of government, to try to protect the interests of both the majority and the minority citizens, utilizing the United Nations forces to maintain peace while the electoral process can be put into effect.

We have worked very closely with the frontline nations, those nations surrounding Rhodesia. In Namibia, we are cooperating with France, with Germany, with Great Britain, with Canada, in trying to bring about a peaceful resolution of the Namibian question, withdrawal of South African forces, again establishing a democratic government there under the auspices of the United Nations.

I believe that this kind of role—peaceful, nonintrusive, not based on military action, working closely with the nationals there, the citizens of countries involved-is an appropriate role for us. I think when we have a disturbance of peace, as was the case with the violation of the Zairian border by the Katangan intruders from Angola, that we need to act in concert. My own preference, though, is to see the Organization of African Unity strengthened and any sort of peace-keeping forces be under the auspices of the African nations themselves through the Organization of African Unity.

In a special case, we do provide some military assistance or some logistical support, as we did in Zaire, to remove the nationals who were threatened there. But I think this kind of military action on our part ought to be extremely limited and done only at the request of governments involved.


MR. NARITA. Mr. President, regarding the East-West relations, it seems to me that the United States is willing to have normalization with Peking. When do you expect this normalization to be done, and could you tell me what the effect will be on Taiwan?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we agree with the principles expressed in the Shanghai Communiqué, with the ultimate goal being normal relations between ourselves and the People's Republic of China. We don't know how rapidly this process can take place. We have deep felt needs to protect the interest of the people on Taiwan, to see the dispute between Taiwan and the Mainland resolved by peaceful means. We intend to continue trade with Taiwan. We want to have these relationships clearly understood by the People's Republic of China.

At the same time, before we can reach fully normal relations with the People's Republic, we would like to strengthen our bilateral relationships with them. We've had our Secretary of State go to visit China, as you know; my National Security Adviser has been. We've recently had a very senior scientific and technological delegation go. We'd like to increase trade with the People's Republic, as Japan has already done. But we see in the future continued trade and good relationship with both Taiwan and the Mainland.

We recognize their claim that there is only one China. We don't intend to get involved in that, but we will do what we can to maintain peace and to improve constantly our relationship with the People's Republic.


MR. BURNET. A final question, Mr. President. There have been many summit conferences, and great men have got together. But do they really produce anything? Do they not just raise false hopes?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I think they produce a lot. It's impossible to compare the present world situation, following three summit conferences, with what it would have been had those summit conferences not taken place. But I know in my own case, both I, the Vice President, my whole Cabinet, all of my economic and political advisers, my military advisers prepare for months before I go to an economic summit conference. We study the particular perspective of other nations—their problems, their local political circumstances, their special needs, their plans for the future, how they interrelate with one another, how our actions might impact positively or adversely on the people in those other countries. Just the preparation for the summit conference itself is a very instructive and educational process.

And then for us to share problems with one another in a very frank and uninhibited way is also very beneficial. And I think for the world to know what we do afterwards through the communiqués is constructive also. And then the last thing is that we set goals for ourselves to strive toward. It lets our own people, our own Congress, our own parliaments know what we hope to achieve. And I think the clarity of those goals, whether or not we achieve them completely, is a very constructive process.

So, I would say in summary that the summit conferences are very constructive, very beneficial to me, to the other leaders, and I think to the people we represent.

MR. BURNET. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you. I enjoyed it.

Note: The interview began at 3:03 p.m. in the Map Room at the White House. It was taped for later broadcast on Western European and Japanese television.

The transcript of the interview was released on July 12.

Jimmy Carter, Interview With the President Question-and-Answer Session With Western European and Japanese Reporters. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/247764

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