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Public Papers - 1992

Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President George Vassiliou of Cyprus



Q. President Vassiliou, are you going to ask the United States to pressure Mr. Denktash to make some progress?

President Vassiliou. Well, I am grateful to the President for his support for a solution of the Cyprus problem, and I'm sure that the fact that he's meeting here, with him in an election campaign period, is the best proof of his interest. And I'm grateful.

President Bush. I am interested, and I just hope we can help. Our Ambassador's been wonderful and tried, a Special Ambassador, but now he's going on to greater pursuits. But we can't let him get too far away because he's very interested in all of that. No, but we'll talk about it, and I think your visit up there in New York probably is very important. I hope the new Secretary-General is energized. He told me he wants to be.

President Vassiliou. He's very interested. He wants to do it, and he needs your support.

President Bush. Well, you can -- --

Q. Mr. Denktash said he would like to meet you someplace.

President Vassiliou. Meetings are always easy to arrange; what is important is to have willingness to solve the problem.

Aid to Former Soviet Union

Q. Mr. President, sir, are you going to send your Soviet aid package up to the Hill tomorrow?

President Bush. Listen, I can't tell you that right now. But we've been working on one for a long, long time, as you know. As I indicated Sunday, we'll have something to say on that very soon. I can't say about tomorrow, any package going up.

I don't think people know how long it takes. This is the Soviet -- we've been working on this for 6 months, and we get a lot of people telling us, well, you've got to -- I mean, it's very complicated when you're trying to get the whole world to come together on it.

[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group came in.]


Q. Mr. President, is Turkey to blame for the current impasse in the Cyprus talks?

President Bush. We're going to have a good talk about Cyprus. Anytime I see my friend, the very able President here, we have good, fruitful discussions. And I'm anxious for him to bring me up to date not only as to how things were at home when he left but how his talks in the United Nations went. As you know, the United States has felt that the United Nations has had and will continue to have a key role in all of this. So secondly, I hope the President knows that we have tried, with various interested parties, to be helpful. Sometimes you think you take a step forward, and you end up sliding back a little bit.

President Vassiliou. Yes.

President Bush. And I want to see what we can do to be sure that now, at this critical time, we don't take a step backwards. But I'm available. The United States is interested in trying to help solve this problem, and I need to hear from President Vassiliou what he thinks now I should be doing as President. We're going to stay right involved with him. It is very important.

Q. Mr. President, how much can one expect in this election year in the United States?

President Bush. The election will have no adverse effect on our efforts, either in terms of my commitment of time, whatever is necessary for me to commit. If that's what it takes, I'll make such a commitment right here.

Secondly, there is no political division on this. The American people are not off in 25 different camps like we are on a lot of other issues. We want to see if we can be helpful to the solution of this problem. So there's nothing in the political arena that would keep an administration at this election time from staying involved and trying to be constructive on a policy question.

Q. Mr. President, do you expect that the problems possibly could be solved this year?

President Bush. Listen, I thought it was possible to solve last year, and we tried, as you remember. I paid a visit to Greece, a visit to Turkey, and there was where we thought we might have helped take a step forward. But we'll keep working on it, and again I'm interested in hearing what the President has to say about this.

Q. Mr. President, how do you address the Greek -- [inaudible] -- on the Macedonian issue?

President Bush. Carefully. [Laughter]

Thank you all, and welcome.

Note: The exchange began at 4 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. Rauf Denktash was the leader of the Turkish community in Cyprus, and Ambassador Nelson Ledsky was U.S. Special Cyprus Coordinator.

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