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Meeting With Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel of Turkey Remarks to Reporters Following the Meeting

May 10, 1977

THE PRIME MINISTER. I have visited with the President, and we have discussed our bilateral relations. I have expressed my deep concern to the President. It was a very useful meeting. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I've outlined to the Prime Minister how important the relationships with Turkey have always been to us, how in times of crisis we've always been staunch friends of one another. The alliance with Turkey is crucial to the security of Europe and to our own national future.

We are very proud of the progress that is being made in providing a higher authority for military sales to Turkey. We just recommended to the Congress that this be increased from $125 million to $175 million. I have every expectation that the Congress will act quickly to increase this demonstration of mutual friendship between our two countries.

We face the future with confidence that the other differences can be ironed out, and my meeting this morning has been .of great benefit to me when the position of Turkey was explained very forcefully by the Prime Minister. So, we have made great progress.

We have a long way to go in the future. But our historical friendship with Turkey cannot be damaged, because--[inaudible].

Q. Did you discuss the Cyprus problem?

THE PRESIDENT. Very briefly. I think there's common hope that the Cyprus question can be resolved. Obviously, this is a decision to be made by the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Obviously, the Prime Minister has a great voice and influence there.

We have hopes with the position--[inaudible]--hope for a united nation on Cyprus and for peace among the Cypriots.

Q. Do you see the problem of American bases being solved, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I think they will be solved. As I said, we are making progress on that line.

Q. Can you explain the importance of the--[inaudible]--countries trying to-[inaudible]--the southern flank of NATO, and on the other hand applying an arms embargo to Turkey, one of the southern flank members?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we recognize that Turkey is the keystone of NATO strength in the eastern Mediterranean. And we are very much concerned about the temporary embargo that was placed by the Congress of the United States. But I believe that very quickly in the next week or so, you will see a renewed commitment of our own Congress to authorize major sales of military equipment to Turkey. I think that this is an accurate prediction. So, we're making progress. And we recognize that we still have more improvement in the future, but we're determined to see it made.

Q. Is there still a linkage, Mr. President, between the Cyprus question and the arms supplies?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, my own analysis is that the items should be separated, that progress on Cyprus is very important to the Cypriots, to Turkey, to Greece, and to the rest of the world, certainly including the United States. And I'm sure that the Turkish leaders, the Greek leaders, the Turkish and Greek Cypriots, and we all will do what we can to bring about peace in Cyprus.

I also think that the military cooperation agreement is important. We have strongly recommended that the Congress approve it. An immediate approval is not likely at this point, but I think that is very likely in the future. That should be a separate item.

And the third separate item is the sale of military equipment to Turkey. I think the Congress will very quickly approve the $175 million authorizations. So, although we all want all three to be realized, in our minds they are separate, and each one is unique in its difficulty, but each one is unique in its importance to peace in the eastern Mediterranean and to world peace.

Thank you.

REPORTER. Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: The exchange with reporters began at 9:25 a.m. at Winfield House, where the meeting was held.

Jimmy Carter, Meeting With Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel of Turkey Remarks to Reporters Following the Meeting Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244182

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