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Visit of Lieutenant General Obasanjo of Nigeria Remarks to Reporters Following the Nigerian Head of State's Departure

October 12, 1977

REPORTER. Mr. President, did you solve all the problems with them or only half?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we made a great stride forward. I think the recognition of Nigeria as an enlightened and very influential nation has been a long time coming in our own country.

The respect with which the Nigerian Government and people are held in Africa is obvious to us now. A year ago, we had nothing but animosity between our own country and the Nigerian Government. Now we have nothing but friendship. And I'm very grateful that this exchange has taken place and the change in our relationships have taken place.

In almost every trouble spot in Africa, the Nigerians are looked upon as a major factor for peace and for the resolution of differences. They comprise about a third of the population of Africa, about half of the gross national product of all the black African nations.

The key to success in resolving the problems in Rhodesia, Namibia, between Somalia and Ethiopia, between Chad and Libya--I think that this is because of their complete commitment to democracy. The fact that the military leaders have healed the wounds of the civil war, the fact that they have an absolute commitment to a democratic means of writing a new constitution with complete civilian rule, these things are admirable, as measured by American standards.

The compatibility between us is very profound. And I think this new development in the relationships between our countries will be very helpful to us, to Africa, and, I thinly, to the entire world.

Q. Are you pleased with the Israeli Cabinet action?


Q. On the peace plan, so-called, the procedures for going to Geneva, are you pleased with that?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I'm pleased with that. And it's not a final decision, obviously, because we don't yet know the private concerns on the part of the Israelis--I don't.

Of course, we are consulting constantly with the Arab nations as well. But I think every week now is bringing about some progress toward a Geneva conference. And I think there's been a substantial alleviation among the leaders of the Middle Eastern nations of their concern about the results of a Geneva conference.

I think they all are beginning to see now that it's not something that they need to fear, that it's a first step toward a possible final peace settlement. But it's extremely sensitive, extremely complicated.

The national leaders, even those presently in office, have made very abusive statements in the past. It's hard for them to correct or to modify those statements in a constructive fashion, but they're doing their best. And I don't think there's any nation now that I couldn't say is genuinely striving for the convening of the conference and also ultimate settlement that brings about peace.

Q. Are the stories about the breakthrough in SALT correct?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there has been substantial progress, as I've already said, on the SALT negotiations. We don't know yet what the Soviet attitude is on the very important remaining differences. We are negotiating at Geneva. These negotiations have just recommenced. And we have nothing to indicate that there's been an irresolvable difference. So, I can't really comment specifically on SALT, except to say that the results so far have been encouraging. We don't know how much progress will be made in the future.

Q. Mr. President, we understand you are going to step up your public role in behalf of the energy program to a large extent in the next few weeks. What kinds of things do you have in mind?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, back in April and May, when we described very accurately the threat to our country of the energy crisis, there was a rapid growth in public awareness. The oil companies, through their advertising program and so forth, on an almost hourly basis, present their point of view about the energy problem. That's completely legitimate. I don't criticize them because of it.

But I don't think that anything has happened since April that's caused an alleviation of the problem. I think that it's patently obvious that the problem is much more severe now than it was 6 months ago and that the inevitability of an energy crisis that can be devastating to us and to the rest of the world is becoming more and more obvious.

The major effort of the entire Government this year, the Congress and myself together, has been the energy legislation. A very large investment of time and effort has gone into it. And it's predictably controversial. What the Congress decides will touch the lives of every person in this country, not only in the immediate future but even more severely in years to come.

The basic struggle is whether or not the average family in this Nation is going to be treated fairly, whether energy supplies are going to be adequate, whether there can be international stability where the security of our country can be maintained on the one hand, or whether special interest groups can derive an unwarranted advantage at the expense of most American people, and the conservation efforts that we have proposed would be negated.

I consider it to be of crucial importance. And as we approach the end of the congressional session, I think it's important for me again to go back to the country and reaffirm the reasons, which have not changed, for a comprehensive energy policy to be adopted.

Q. Are you now going over the heads of Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I think I'll be working with most of the Members of Congress.

Q. Mr. President, do you think the creation of a Palestinian state would lead to the destruction of Israel---or entity

THE PRESIDENT. I've never advocated an independent Palestinian state.

Note: The President spoke at 12 noon on the South Grounds of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of Lieutenant General Obasanjo of Nigeria Remarks to Reporters Following the Nigerian Head of State's Departure Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/241867

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