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Return of Six Americans From Iran Remarks by Telephone With Prime Minister Ice Clark of Canada.

January 31, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. Hello? Is the Prime Minister there? Okay, fine. He's not on yet. Sorry, maybe tomorrow. [Laughter] He's out traveling through Canada somewhere. They [the reporters] can stay in, Rex;1 it's okay. I think Signal's about got him on the phone.

REPORTER. There is a little story in the paper today that you've decided to include women in the draft registration.

1 Rex Granum, Deputy Press Secretary to the President.

THE PRESIDENT. I'm not going to have a press conference. [Laughter]

Q. No confirmation?


The Prime Minister and I have had a series of secret messages back and forth. But I wanted to thank him and the Canadian people personally for what they've done for us.

Q. Can you tell us more about the messages?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we've been communicating regularly ever since the first part of November, sometimes by telephone, mostly through diplomatic channels, but quite often directly through personal messages. The Canadians have been extremely helpful and courageous, in my opinion, personally and politically, including the Prime Minister, Joe Clark, and also Ambassador Taylor and the other Embassy officials there. It's a wonderful example of friendship and cooperation and common ideals that we share with the Canadians.

[At this point, the President's conversation with the Prime Minister began. The White House transcript does not include the Prime Minister's remarks.]

Mr. Prime Minister, good morning to you. Where are you?

[The Prime Minister responded.]

Well, I know. I called—as you know, we've had a series of communications back and forth privately, sometimes almost in verbal code, on the telephone and otherwise —but I wanted to call, now that our six Americans are back in this country and safe, publicly and on behalf of all the American people, Joe, to thank you and Ambassador Taylor and the Canadian Government and people for a tremendous exhibition of friendship and support and, I think, personal and political courage.

You've probably seen the outpouring of appreciation that has come from the American people on their own volition. And it's typical of the way we all feel. I might point out that the congressional parliamentarians tell me that the action taken by our Congress yesterday toward the Canadian Government is the first time in the history of our Nation that the Congress has ever expressed its thanks personally to another government for an act of friendship and heroism. And I just wanted to relay that historical note to you as well.

[The Prime Minister responded.]

Well, I thank you. I don't believe that the revelation of their departure will be damaging to the well-being of our other hostages. You're nice and very perceptive to express that concern. I think it was a remarkable demonstration of mutual trust that the fact of the existence of those Americans was kept confidential so long, and the fact that it was not revealed publicly until after they'd already left is very good.

But Joe, good luck to you. And I hope that you'll not only send a copy of my letter to Ambassador Taylor but also publicly express to the people of Canada my deep appreciation, both to you, to Ambassador Taylor, to all of the Embassy officials, and indeed to your whole country. We are deeply grateful for this, a new demonstration of the closeness that is very beneficial to us.

[The Prime Minister responded.]

Same to you, Joe. Have a good 1980. Goodby.

[To the reporters] Well, he's very nice. He expressed his hope that the revelation of their departure was not in any way going to endanger our own hostages still being held, and pointed out accurately that they've been very supportive of us from the very beginning of the Iranian crisis.

Note: The President spoke at 11:30 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House.

On February 1, the President met in the Oval Office with the six U.S. Embassy personnel following their arrival in Washington, D.C., and an appearance at the Department of State. Mr. and Mrs. Mark J. Lijek, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph D. Stafford, Robert G. Anders, and Henry Lee Schatz had taken refuge in Canadian residences in Tehran after the U.S. Embassy was occupied on November 4, 1979. Canadian Ambassador to Iran Kenneth Taylor and members of his staff helped them escape from Iran.

Jimmy Carter, Return of Six Americans From Iran Remarks by Telephone With Prime Minister Ice Clark of Canada. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249727

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