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Meeting With Brigadier General Juan Alberto Melgar Castro of Honduras Remarks to Reporters Following the Meeting With the Chief of State of Honduras

September 08, 1977

REPORTER. HOW did these talks go, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, they have all been very good. One of the most difficult threats to peace in our entire hemisphere has been the breakdown in relations between El Salvador and Honduras because of a border dispute that has been longstanding and which was aggravated by a conflict following a soccer game 7 or 8 years ago. And because of this, the Pan-American Highway has been severed for use and there have been no relations there and a constant threat of war.

Today, however, the El Salvadorian Congress voted unanimously to approve a pending agreement for mediation of the border disputes, and on the other hand, Honduras has reaffirmed its commitment to peace with El Salvador, and the two Presidents have been meeting at length while they have been in Washington.

We've also received good news from El Salvador, that they asked the Organization of American States to send their commission on human rights into El Salvador to witness the great progress that has been made in the last 2 months since the new administration took effect.

I've just met with President Melgar of Honduras, who has shown a great interest in multinational cooperation between Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador and other countries in that region, like Nicaragua, in the development of energy resources. These are relatively poor countries as far as per capita income is concerned. And of course, this poverty has been aggravated by an absence of trade and commerce and cooperation with their neighbors.

And so, I think that many of these leaders have come here to Washington not only to participate in the ceremonies related to the Panama Canal Treaty but also to use the occasion as a chance to meet privately with one another and to try to resolve differences that have been in existence for decades, as an exhibition of their hope for peace and friendship which we showed, along with Panama, with our treaty.

So, I think the discussions have been good. It also gives me a chance to learn about their special needs.

There is a hydroelectric project, for instance, in Honduras, El Cajon, and of course, our attitude on the Board of Directors of the World Bank and the Inter-American Bank, the allocation of funds from some of the European countries and some of the Arab countries, Iran, for this project might very well make it possible now to be completed. It's been pending for years and years. And I think a common interest in this kind of project, whether or not this particular one is successful, is a constructive opportunity.

Q. I wonder if I could ask, Mr. President, if you've been told that your Harris approval rating has dropped from 69 to, today, 52 percent?


Q. And to what extent you think that is related to the Lance affair?

THE PRESIDENT. It's hard to say, you know, what causes the ups and downs of a public official's approval rating. I think, though, that if I continue to make a judgment on each individual decision that confronts me on the basis of its merits, that ultimately I'll survive and will retain an adequate support from our people.

This, combined with the Panama Canal problem, the adverse report recently on unemployment, the chronic inflation rate, and also the controversial matters like welfare reform, energy problems, increased taxation on some kinds of energy sources--all of these matters contribute to the deterioration of the overwhelming approval rating that I did have, which I think was extraordinarily high.

But this is compatible with what has happened with other Presidents who were active, and although, of course, I would like to have a hundred percent approval, I'm perfectly willing to continue to be judged on what is the ultimate outcome of these affairs.

In my judgment, Bert Lance ought to have a chance for a hearing without delay, comprehensive in nature, with every allegation and fact produced for the American people to know and for the Congress to know and for me to understand. And I'm very eager to see the testimony presented by the Comptroller General's--by the Comptroller's report and the Senate investigating committees. And there has never been any doubt in my mind that the outcome of these investigations will be not only proper but also will be well accepted by the American people.

REPORTER. Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: The exchange began at 5:15 p.m. on the South Grounds of the White House.

The transcript of the remarks was made available by the White House Press Office. It was not issued in the form of a White House press release.

Jimmy Carter, Meeting With Brigadier General Juan Alberto Melgar Castro of Honduras Remarks to Reporters Following the Meeting With the Chief of State of Honduras Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/241736

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