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Public Papers - 1990

Exchange With Reporters Aboard Air Force One

1990-11-18

Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany

The President. -- -- here's why. I want to save it all for Germany or France or Saudi Arabia.

Q. Why?

The President. Why? That's what I asked -- --

Q. You called Kohl this morning? What was that about?

The President. Called him?

Q. In the last few days?

The President. No.

Q. Yesterday?

The President. No.

Q. What about GATT? Yesterday I was asking Marlin about GATT and about whether or not you were going to bring that up today.

Mr. Fitzwater. I think it's been a couple weeks since you called Chancellor Kohl.

The President. Yes. I haven't talked to him today. Mark that: Did not call Kohl.

Soviet Union/Persian Gulf Crisis

Q. What do you think about the changes in the Soviet Union?

The President. Very interesting. I'll have a chance to talk to Mr. Gorbachev about all of that.

But this visit was very moving and very emotional and very good. And I thought what Havel said yesterday should be well noted around the world, not just on his aspirations for his own country but what he said as it related to aggression in the Middle East, because this country has learned what it means to be taken over. And all during dinner and afterward, talking to the people, the patriots there, why, it just redoubles my conviction that aggression can't stand. And I think he answered that question very directly to one of you all yesterday which was very, very forceful.

Q. Everybody thinks you're going to war -- --

The President. The United Nations -- --

Q. -- -- in late January.

The President. -- -- resolutions will prevail. I'm convinced of it.

Q. So what about Bennett [former Director of National Drug Control Policy] -- --

The President. And I was very pleased with the support yesterday that I saw in that -- I think it was your poll, wasn't it? ABC? Its strong support for what we're doing -- very strong. You can write the story one way; but when you analyze the results of the poll, why, it was very, very positive. I think some were frustrated we haven't moved sooner, and some are frustrated we may be moving too fast. But if we add it all up, there is strong support for what the United States is doing at home, and I think there's strong support for what we're doing around the world. I'm sure of it in Czechoslovakia. I can guarantee you that.

Q. Do you consider that a green light?

The President. I consider it a solid front.

Q. A what?

The President. A solid front. Because I think this: What we learn here today is just one more affirmation that the United Nations is correct in its resolutions.

Q. Are you planning a TV speech when you get back to the States?

The President. Haven't planned it, but there may well be one.

Q. How close are you to getting enough votes in the U.N. to go for a -- --

The President. We're not discussing that now. We're just doing a little consultation.

William J. Bennett

Q. Did you really pick Bennett to head the -- --

The President. We're not discussing that now.

Q. -- -- Republican National Committee?

The President. I don't know -- a lot happens when I leave. We've got to wait and do a little -- [laughter] -- --

Q. This happened without your knowledge?

The President. Yes. Isn't that amazing?

Q. Shocking.

Arms Reduction Agreements and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Q. Are you intending for the Gulf to make everybody forget about CSCE?

Q. Don't you think that's the effect of what you're doing on this -- --

The President. I don't know. I hope you write the importance of this arms control agreement. I will say it's important. It seems to have been overshadowed by what's happening in the Gulf, but it is a significant milestone.

Q. How about START [strategic arms reduction talks]?

The President. And you've got to put CSCE in a broad context. I mean, when I was talking to the Czechs yesterday about not having them and the other Eastern European countries in some no man's land, that leads one to the importance of CSCE for the ongoing consideration of European interest with them as a part of it. So, that's -- --

Q. What about START?

Q. How about the expansion of NATO?

The President. They are observers in NATO, but I think for the broader participation, the CSCE will have some applications.

Q. How closely are you tracking how much material the Russians are moving east of the Urals?

The President. I can't answer that. I've not been briefed on how much they're moving east of the Urals.

Q. So, it doesn't concern you?

The President. I have not followed recently. I'm sure that if it were a real concern, I'd know about it.

Q. Are you going to go to Moscow to sign the START agreement in January?

The President. When the START agreement is ready to sign, I'll go to Moscow and sign it.

Q. When do you think it will be ready?

The President. I can't help you with that, but maybe I'll be able to help you with that question after I see Mr. Gorbachev.

Agricultural Subsidies

Q. How much of your discussions with Kohl are going to relate to the Gulf as compared to CSCE, and what's the agenda look like?

The President. I don't know. Of course, there's also the trade area with Kohl that we've got to talk about. So, I don't know how it will break out. But I have such a warm, pleasant relationship with him that I've always been able to talk very frankly, and I don't feel inhibited or restricted by any talking points or allocation of his time on a subject.

Q. Is he the main stumbling block on the subsidy -- --

The President. No.

Q. You think you'll get better results out of him after his elections? Is that why you're going to Brussels on GATT?

The President. I don't know. I think that he basically is with us in terms of freer trade. I mean, there's no question in my mind about that. But whether the election is an inhibiting factor, I'd have to make that determination after I've talked to him.

Q. You still plan to go to Brussels, though?

The President. When?

Q. I'm sorry, we still will attend the Brussels GATT meeting; we're not going to pull out on that?

The President. Well, let's wait until we finish the discussions over here and then see what we get.

Visit With U.S. Troops in Saudi Arabia

Q. Why did you ask the Members of Congress along for the Saudi Arabia stop?

The President. Well, I just think it's a good thing to have the leadership with you on a trip of this nature. They're very emotionally involved. And I think it's most appropriate that they come. And they all seemed to accept with alacrity, so I guess they have no reservations at all.

Q. Why not some of the critics which you wouldn't include among the leaders that you've invited? They've been the most support, I think. [Senator] Moynihan or -- --

The President. Well, I deal with the leadership. I can't deal with every Member of Congress. You've got 435 in the House, remember, Ann [Ann Compton, ABC News], and you've got 100 in the Senate. So, plenty of Congressmen go over there on their own, but the President should invite the leaders.

Q. Is there some reason why [Representative] Gephardt is not on the list for Saudi Arabia?

The President. Well, only the fact that we have two from the House and two from the Senate. But it would have been the most appropriate if -- in fact, there was some discussion that if the Speaker couldn't go, then clearly Gephardt would have been -- --

Thank you all. See, I've exhausted your questions.

Q. Will we get another shot at you this afternoon?

The President. I doubt that.

Q. No?

The President. We don't want overexposure. You know, once -- I think it was Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International] who said we're having too many -- --

Q. Never. I never said that in my life.

The President. You sure?

Note: The exchange occurred while the President was en route from Prague, Czechoslovakia, to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Marlin Fitzwater was Press Secretary to the President. Earlier in the morning, the President met with members of the U.S. Embassy community and participated in a departure ceremony with national leaders at Ruzyne Airport. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

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