Jimmy Carter photo

The President's News Conference

January 26, 1979

THE PRESIDENT. Good afternoon.

Ms. Thomas [Helen Thomas, United Press International].


Q. Mr. President, the United States has acknowledged that there is one China, and Taiwan is a part of it. And, remembering the Gulf of Tonkin resolution as an underpinning of the Vietnam war, my question is, are you concerned that the congressional resolutions regarding Taiwan's security may infringe on China's sovereignty and, two, may involve us at some future point in Asia again?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I'm not concerned about that. I could not approve any legislation presented to me by Congress that would be contradictory or that which would violate the agreements that we have concluded with the Republic of China—the People's Republic of China. I, myself, am committed to a strong and a prosperous and a free people on Taiwan. We intend to carry on our diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China as the Government of China, but we'll have trade relationships, cultural relationships with the people on Taiwan. And I believe that the legislation that has now been presented to the Congress is a good foundation for this.

But I don't see this as an opening for bloodshed or war. I think the statements made by the Chinese leaders since the announcement of intentions to establish diplomatic relations have been very constructive and have indicated a peaceful intent.

Q. Are you speaking also of the Kennedy resolution, which will be introduced on Monday, or only your own resolution?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't read the so-called Kennedy resolution. I really don't believe that any resolution is needed. I think our legislative proposal and the announcement made about normalization, the combination of those two is adequate.


Q. Mr. President, on Tuesday you said that we would have a SALT agreement if the Soviet Union continued to negotiate in good faith.


Q. Do you have any slight doubt in your mind on that score?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I've been in office now 2 years, and we've been negotiating with the Soviets almost full-time on a SALT agreement. Prior to that time, 4 additional years of negotiations were conducted with the Soviet Union. My understanding is that prior to the time I came into office, and since I've been in office, they have negotiated in good faith.

They are tough bargainers; we are, too. We have tried to evolve an agreement with the Soviet Union which would, first of all, be verifiable, which would preserve the security of our Nation and even enhance it, which would control nuclear weapons, and which would lay a basis for increased friendship between us and the Soviet Union and let us control or reduce the threat of the proliferation of nuclear explosives to other nations throughout the world. I think that we and the Soviets have those goals in mind. And I hope and expect that our progress will continue.

Now we're negotiating every day at Geneva and supplementing that negotiation through diplomatic channels, both here and in the Soviet Union.

Q. Could you say whether they have hardened their position in the last month or two?

THE PRESIDENT. No, they have not hardened their position in the last month or two. I think their positions, along with ours, have been adequately hard. We have negotiated very firmly, and there has been a steady progress. There has never been one time since I've been in office when we've had a recess in the efforts, nor a retrogressive action when we were discouraged. We've been making steady progress, and we still are.


Q. Mr. President, the shipment of 200,000 barrels of gasoline and diesel fuel to Iran—doesn't that really amount to the interference in Iran's internal affairs that you have said the U.S. will not now be part of? And would you stand for a similar such action from any other nation? And may I please follow?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't see the shipment of fuel supplies to Iran in any way as an interference in the internal affairs of Iran. These shipments of energy supplies and, I'm sure, food and other goods to let the people of Iran have a better life, I think, are very good and constructive and proper. We do not have any intention of interfering in the affairs of Iran, the internal affairs of their government, and we don't want any other country to do it either.

Q. To what extent do you accept a congressional investigating committee's finding that you and your top foreign policy advisers must share responsibility with the CIA for the downfall of the Shah?

THE PRESIDENT. The situation in Iran now, politically speaking, is very sensitive, and I can't think of anything I could say about it that would contribute to the hopes that we have that Iran would settle their problems peacefully, that bloodshed would be prevented, and that any political change in their government would be conducted in an orderly fashion in accordance with the Iranian Constitution. So, I don't intend to make any statements about the impact of what we have done or will do on Iran.

As I said earlier, we do not interfere in the internal affairs of Iran. We do not want any other government to do it either.


Q. Mr. President, from your experience so far, sir, with selection committees for Federal judges, do you think they're working out all right? And if you don't, how would you like to change them?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the ones that we have appointed—I have myself appointed to choose Federal circuit judges—I think have worked fairly well. They've certainly been an improvement over arbitrary selections on a political basis or without adequate assessment of merit.

We have tried to induce the Members of the Senate to do two things: One is to choose a list of potential judge appointees on the basis of merit, but also to take into consideration the fact that for many years there have been discriminatory practices in the appointment of judges—against minority groups, those who speak Spanish, for instance, those who are black, and also against women. And those two, that combination of efforts, merit and a correction of past discrimination, are the bases on which we're trying to make these appointments. I hope that the Senators will cooperate. In some instances they have, not yet enough.


Q. Mr. President, a couple of related political questions, since a lot of people are trying to jump in already to run against you in 1980. Will you promise now to debate your Republican opponent in 1980, on television as you did in 1976, assuming you run and that you are the nominee of your party? And second, who thought up 'the slogan "New Foundation"? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. On the first question, I really don't want to get involved in answering questions about the 1980 campaign. I think it's too early for me to do it. I would rather address my attention and the attention on me on my present duties, not some future campaign.

Secondly, I think the new foundations question or basis for the State of the Union speech is a good one. We got into a discussion about what theme we should pursue during the preparation of that speech. Many of the decisions that we have made and are making do not pay off in immediate political benefits, but it's an investment at the present time for future dividends for America. And some of the decisions that Congress has made in approving the programs that I advocated were really difficult for them politically.

Some of the decisions that I am making right now, in having a tough and stringent budget for 1980, may not be politically popular, but I think in the long run the control of inflation will pay rich dividends for our country. And the fact that we are building a foundation for future progress was the reason we chose that as a theme for the speech.

Q. Mr. President, to follow up on the previous question, sir. For 2 years you avoided the use of a slogan similar to New Frontier or Great Society or whatever. And now you've used it often enough this week to indicate that you'd like to make this your motto. Why did you make that change, and, secondly, do you think this slogan will survive the way some of the others did?

THE PRESIDENT. I doubt if it will survive. [Laughter] We are not trying to establish this as a permanent slogan. It was the theme that we established because of extreme logic, which I've just described in the previous question, for one State of the Union speech. I think it accurately describes what I wanted to project to the American people. I think we did it very well.


Q. Mr. President, have U.S.-Soviet relations been impaired in any way by the Deng visit? Any unhappiness being expressed by the Soviets over the visit?

THE PRESIDENT. NO, I don't believe so. My own belief is that the Deng visit and the normalization of relations between ourselves and China will not only help the people of our two countries but will provide for stability and peace in the Western Pacific or the Asian region and, also, the entire world. And my hope and expectation is that the Soviets will agree that that assessment is accurate, that this will not be a destabilizing factor in the future, but a stabilizing factor, and that world peace will be enhanced.

We will be cautious in not trying to have an unbalanced relationship between China and the Soviet Union. And if there has been some concern expressed by some sources—and I'm not familiar with them—I don't think they are well advised.


Q. Mr. President, in the last few days you have taken on various steps in the area of education, focusing on increasing Federal assistance to black colleges, specifically. I think you have even issued a memorandum to Federal agency heads, and you have also endorsed the new department of education.

My question is two-fold: One, what kind of increases can black colleges expect from the Federal Government in this time of overall restraint in the budget? And secondly, how will you seek to enforce and implement the civil rights laws that exist in the education area?

THE PRESIDENT. I think last year we increased total Federal allocations for education about $12 billion? This was for the preschool programs, for Title 1 education for disadvantaged students who were in the public schools, and, also, a very large and, I think, well-contrived allocation of new funds for student loans. These will, obviously, apply to all students, both black and white, some emphasis on disadvantaged children.


Note: President Carter's forty-third news conference began at 3 p.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. It was broadcast live on radio and television.

Jimmy Carter, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249310

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