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Public Papers - 1990 - November

Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis of Greece in Paris, France

1990-11-21

Persian Gulf Crisis

Q. Mr. President, did you have a breakthrough with President Gorbachev on the Persian Gulf in terms of a resolution you're seeking? Do you think there's been a little give there?

The President. Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], I've said all along -- and please go back and look at it -- that we're on the same wavelength with the Soviet Union. And I still feel that way -- same wavelength in regard to the United Nations. So, I won't go beyond that. But I feel I've been consistent here, and I feel the Soviets have been consistent.

Q. Well, there seems to be a little more optimism since yesterday, since Baker's talks.

The President. Well, I've been optimistic all along. We're on the same wavelength; that's the only point I'm trying to make. I think that we're in good synchronization with them and with many other countries as we face the problems of the Gulf. And I might say that the Greeks have been totally on board and understanding about our collective objectives in the Gulf, and I'm very grateful to them.

President's Visit to Greece

Q. You're going there in January?

The President. I hope to be going to Greece early in the year, yes. I don't know that I'm getting ahead of the groove, but I'll tell you that I want very much to do that. And I don't know the exact date, but I know you asked me, and I'm looking forward to my first visit there as President. I've been there several other times, of course.

Persian Gulf Crisis

Q. Are you setting a deadline, sir, for the Iraqis to get out of Kuwait?

The President. We'll just watch the way all of this develops. Everybody is convinced they must get out of Kuwait with no concessions, and that's what's emerging here. Some people have been writing the story one way, and some writing it another. All that I understand. But please understand we are on the same wavelength with the Soviet Union and almost all the others on the Security Council, and certainly with countries like Greece and others around the world who may not be on the Security Council. But know what it means when aggression comes along, and know that we have to reverse this aggression that is brutalizing the people of Kuwait, the hostages in Iraq. And indeed, I haven't lessened my concerns about the United States Embassy in Kuwait.

I'm not sure the American people have focused on the fact that Saddam Hussein continues to violate the United Nations resolution and continues to try to starve out our Embassy in Kuwait. But all of these points -- whether it's hostages in Iraq, whether it's an Embassy in Kuwait, whether it's the aggression itself -- it seems that on all of those points we have agreement with most of the people -- if not all -- that I've talked to here at the CSCE. So, I leave Paris feeling that we are still together as countries that want to see this aggression reversed and want to see this man unilaterally, without condition get out of Kuwait.

People are beginning to see the cynicism, his brutality, the way he plays around with the lives of the hostages. It is brutal. It is cruel. And I didn't see one single country here that had anything other than condemnation of that kind of behavior. And I talked to almost everybody that sat around that table.

Q. Again, sir, though, is there a deadline -- --

The President. Listen, I've got a lot of business to do with my good friend.

Note: The exchange began at 8 a.m. in the Drawing Room at the U.S. Embassy. In his remarks, the President referred to talks between Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. Saddam Hussein was President of Iraq. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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