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National Archives

Public Papers - 1991

Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting with Secretary of Agriculture Edward R. Madigan


Aid to the Soviet Union

Q. Mr. President, are you going to provide aid for the Soviets for the winter?

The President. Nobody is going to starve, and people are not going to be adversely affected in their health for lack of medicine. But we're not -- we're going to hear from the Secretary as to what he feels is required. And we've always, the United States has always been open for humanitarian support, for humanitarian needs. But we have made no decisions on any of this yet, and we haven't -- I read one report from Ed Madigan. I now am going to have a more detailed presentation here. And then we've got to tie all of this together.

Secretary Brady is back from Asia, where they had a meeting of the G - 7 regarding the overall demands or requests from the Soviet Union. And you've got to consider the foreign policy aspects of it. The Treasury -- Mr. Zoellick is with us today. So, we've got a lot of planning before we -- --

Q. Well, how quickly are you prepared to meet those -- --

The President. Well, do it in a reasonable, prudent way, to take whatever time is required to be sure what you're doing makes sense. We've got a lot of domestic problems. We've got a lot of domestic demands here, and we've got to sort it all out. So, I don't know. I can't give you an exact timeframe as to when we will have a plan. We've got many other countries we're working with on this. So, it's not just the United States waving a wand and solving problems. We've got our own resource problems. We want to help. We've got to coordinate this with other countries. So, I just can't help you on the exact timeframe.

Hostages in Lebanon

Q. Are we seeing the end of the hostage crisis in Lebanon?

The President. This takes me back to Maine, in August, when we kept talking about all the hostages coming out, you remember? And I said, ``Listen, please don't press me on this. I do not want to get the hopes of these families up.'' And sure enough, one hostage released, and now, thank God, another. We're very pleased about that. But we just have to keep supporting the efforts that are going on right now to get the release of all of them. But I just can't, again, help you on timing on that. Thank you all.

Note: The exchange began at 2:15 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. During the exchange, the President referred to Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas F. Brady and Robert B. Zoellick, Counselor of the Department of State. The President also referred to the Group of 7 (G - 7), the industrialized democracies that participate in annual economic summit meetings. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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