Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks and an Informal Exchange With Reporters on the United States Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia

June 03, 1986

The President. Well, the week before last, as you all know, I vetoed a joint resolution which would have prevented the sale of defensive missiles to Saudi Arabia. And I understand the vote on my veto is scheduled in the Senate for this Thursday at 2 o'clock. And I'd like to stress once again how important I feel it is for you to sustain my veto.

I want all of you to understand that this vote will have a profound effect upon our relations with the Arab world, not just with Saudi Arabia. If the veto isn't sustained, it'll seriously undermine our foreign policy objectives throughout the region. A sale is, clearly and without question, in the interest of the United States. It's quite simply necessary and indispensable to the execution of our foreign policy. And I'm counting on you in the Senate for your support. Most people don't seem to be aware or stop to think about that we've had a relationship for more than 40 years, a sound and mutual security relationship with Saudi Arabia. And it's been of great benefit to us as well as to them.

So, that is for openers here, and I'll now pause while our friends—

Q. Do you think you'll get it, Mr. President? [Laughter]

The President. Well, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], you've just heard my impassioned plea here.

Q. I heard your plea, but I wonder what your head count is?

Q. Have you found the 34th vote yet, sir?

The President. I'm not going to comment. I'm just superstitious about that sort of thing.

Q. What do you think of their TV performance?.

Senator Dole. Fabulous. [Laughter]

Q. Did you give them any tips?

The President. Oh, it's probably going to beat the "Wheel of Fortune." [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, do you think that members of the press should be prosecuted for security leaks as [CIA Director] Mr. Casey has suggested?

The President. It isn't a case of what we may think or not. There is a law that was passed—I believe it was 1954—that's very specific—not just about the media, it's about anyone who makes public information which can be dangerous to our national security. And I would think that all of us are bound by that law.

Note: The President spoke at 9:34 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House, prior to a meeting with the Republican congressional leadership. Robert Dole was the Senate majority leader. Helen Thomas referred to the first day of television coverage of the Senate proceedings.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks and an Informal Exchange With Reporters on the United States Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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