Remarks to Reporters Following a Meeting With Congressmen To Discuss United States Military Assistance to Turkey
THIS MORNING we had an hour-and-a-half breakfast working meeting with a number of the members of the House Committee on International Relations, the chairman, Doc Morgan, the chairman of the subcommittee, Congressman Zablocki, and the ranking Republican on the full committee, concerning an effort to try and resolve the legislative problem of Turkish military aid.
The Administration, of course, has asked for a total removal of the ban, but we have worked with the Democratic chairman and the other members of the committee on a compromise that will be before the committee tomorrow.
I just want to thank Chairman Morgan and his associates on both sides of the aisle for taking the initiative in seeking what we believe is a fair and equitable solution.
REPORTER. What is the compromise, sir?
REPRESENTATIVE THOMAS E. MORGAN. Well, the compromise--we will start out tomorrow, hold hearings on the Mansfield-Scott resolution, and we hope to complete hearings tomorrow. We will have the Administration witnesses in the morning and, of course, the Greek witnesses in the afternoon in the open hearing.
On Friday, we hope to start the markup. We will start the markup using the Senate resolution and substitute the bill worked out by Mr. Zablocki and Congressman Fascell and Congressman Hamilton and Congressman Broomfield. We hope we can report that out sometime on Friday.
The substitute--it really opens up the pipeline on what Turkey has bought and paid for, plus it resumes the rights of Turkey to make cash sales under the military foreign sales program.
There is no grant military assistance plus a complete study for future military and economic aid, both to Greece and Turkey. There is a clause, some safety clauses in it that the President doesn't like. But the President reports to Congress every 60 days on the progress of the sales and the progress, of course, of settling the Cyprus dispute.
I think it is a fair compromise. I think we could sell it to the House. Those who supported the total embargo last December, when we appropriated the foreign aid bill, can vote for this and explain it to the Greek-American people of this country.
Q. Congressman Morgan, will there be action in the House by the first of August?
REPRESENTATIVE MORGAN. I hope to have action if we can move as rapidly as we can to get it out of the committee Friday or the early part of next week and immediately apply for a rule.
Q. How much money is involved? How much equipment? Is it millions of dollars in the pipeline?
THE PRESIDENT. I understand that there is approximately $70 million of Turkish military purchases which they bought and paid for that are not delivered because of the embargo. And unfortunately, they have not only bought and paid for this equipment but they are being charged storage in the warehouses in the United States.
Now, the compromise that Dr. Morgan and the others have worked on would free those Turkish purchases, amounting to roughly $70 million, and add to that the right of the Turkish Government to buy for cash additional military hardware.
Q. How much?
THE PRESIDENT. That is, I think, limited by the overall limitation on foreign 'military sales.
REPRESENTATIVE MORGAN. It would depend on how much military sales worldwide have been purchased. You couldn't determine the figure.
Q. How is the Cyprus compromise coming along? I mean, is there any progress in the negotiations?
THE PRESIDENT. There is a meeting between Denktash and Clerides scheduled for July 24, and if there is action in the Congress, it will, I believe, greatly facilitate the negotiations between these two leaders of the Turkish and Greek-Cypriots, so we are hoping that there can be action. And if there is action in the Congress, then the prospects for movement are certainly improved tremendously.
Q. Mr. President, there was a quote on one of the broadcasts this morning saying Congressman Brademas thought that some of your meetings involved some arm twisting, like this meeting this morning. Have you been arm twisting on this subject?
THE PRESIDENT. NO, I would say just the opposite. I should add that in the last 2 or 3 weeks, I and Secretary Kissinger have met with Congressman Brademas, Congressman Sarbanes, and Congressman Rosenthal, plus Congressmen Hamilton, Fascell, Zablocki, Broomfield, and Whalen, and maybe one or two others, in trying to get a dialog started so that we could find the areas of agreement and the areas of compromise, and out of those meetings, I think, has come this compromise.
Q. Mr. President, what does this compromise do to the problem of the law that says that our allies are not to use American weapons against their friends and allies?
REPRESENTATIVE CLEMENT J. ZABLOCKI. The compromise very clearly states that any additional military aid that will be sold to Turkey may not be used for other purposes than NATO defense.
Q. Didn't the law say that in the beginning, though?
REPRESENTATIVE ZABLOCKI. The compromise does not deal with any matter that has taken place in the past. It is restating the law for future use.
Q. How will that be policed?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we, of course, have U.S. military personnel in the various NATO countries, and they follow on the scene the end-use of the equipment.
Q. Mr. President, are we prepared to talk about renegotiating the bases in Turkey now?
THE PRESIDENT. That is another matter of major importance. Roughly 30 days ago, the Turkish Government indicated to us formally that they wanted to begin talks for the termination of some of our U.S. bases in Turkey, and the deadline for that is July 17.
We again hope that there can be some action in the committee and hopefully on the floor of the House of Representatives prior to that date so that we can say to the Turks that progress is being made. And if there is progress, then we are in a better position to talk with them without any adverse developments as to those highly important military installations in Turkey.
Q. Do you think Turkey will accept this, the compromise?
THE PRESIDENT. We think it is a good compromise, and we will do our utmost in the executive branch to convince the Turks that it is a solution that will lead to the settlement of the Cyprus problem and to the continuation of Turkey as a strong and effective partner in NATO, plus the good bilateral relations that Turkey and the United States have had in the past.
Q. Mr. President, what can you tell us about the developments in the Helsinki Conference?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, thank you very much. [Laughter]
REPORTER. Thank you, gentlemen.
Note: The President spoke at 9:37 a.m. outside the West Wing at the White House following his meeting with more than 100 Members of the House of Representatives.
Gerald R. Ford, Remarks to Reporters Following a Meeting With Congressmen To Discuss United States Military Assistance to Turkey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/257343