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Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Situation in El Salvador

June 02, 1983

Q. Mr. President.

Q. Mr. President, come over for a second.

Q. Come and talk to us just before you go.

Q. Are you going to send doctors and medical teams to El Salvador?

The President. Yes. In fact, I heard some time ago about their problems there. This is for civilian as well as whatever military casualties. There is a great need for it, and I am doing this in consultation with the Congress.

Q. What of those who will say that this is a stepping up of our involvement?

The President. Well, if they say it, they will be as wrong as they've been on so many other things. Because, as I said, there is a real need for medical care down there, and in the civilian society, as well. And we're in consultation, as I say, with the Congress on this.

Q. Secretary Enders 1 today seemed to criticize those who he said won't negotiate down there. I said, Secretary Enders was criticizing those who won't negotiate down there, because he says unless we're willing to go in there with overwhelming force, negotiation is the only way.

1 Thomas O. Enders, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.

The President. There's no one that is refusing to negotiate. We are not, however, going to allow armed guerrillas to power, at the point of a gun, their way into a sharing in the government without submitting to the voters. We're negotiating all the time, trying to get them to join in the democratic process.

Q. What about the threat from the left, Mr. President, to kill American military advisers in El Salvador?

The President. Well, I think that that should be a revelation to all of those people who have been believing that the guerrillas are some kind of noble freedom fighters. They aren't. They're murderers and terrorists.

Q. Thank you.

Note: The exchange began at 11:24 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House as the President and Mrs. Reagan were departing for Camp David, Md.

Ronald Reagan, Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Situation in El Salvador Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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