Public Papers

Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Cabinet Meeting


Oil Sales by Iraq

Q. How do you feel about limited oil sales to Iraq, Mr. President? Mr. President, limited oil sales to Iraq? Limited oil sales by Iraq -- excuse me.

The President. Limited oil sales by Iraq.

Q. To raise money.

The President. It's something we ought to talk about here, as a matter of fact.

Q. What are you going to talk about?

Q. That's on the agenda, easing the sanctions on Iraq to allow -- --

The President. Well, it might well be, now that it's been raised here -- [laughter] -- what our position is on that, and -- we've talked out there at the U.N., as you know, and my view is the U.N. mechanism is clear in terms of helping children and those who may be threatened with either famine or disease.

The machinery is in place there and it's very clear that Saddam Hussein has not complied with the U.N. resolution, so we'll see what we can do.

We're not trying to hurt any individuals there. Our argument is not with the women and children of Iraq; it's with the dictator. He has not made restitutions regarding the Kuwaiti people that are held, of Kuwaiti gold that is held -- total disclosure on possible nuclear developments, and so there's much to be done.

But the United States is not going to see suffering of innocent women and children there. There's all kinds of mechanisms available for him to take care of it -- his own resources inside the country, the possible release of resources outside of the country -- and it's a matter that's being discussed at the United Nations.

I had a good discussion this morning with Prince Sadruddin Khan, who is doing some fine work on this question. But we haven't resolved yet, and I need to talk to -- here, we have not resolved yet exactly what we're going to do at the United Nations.

Q. But there is a plan? You are working on a plan, possibly, to permit some oil sales for food and medicine?

The President. That's all I'm going to say about it right now. I hope you'll understand, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International].

Q. I don't quite -- [laughter] -- --

Trade With China

Q. Sir, do you have enough votes to block MFN or to keep MFN going for China?

The President. We're going to be talking about that now. My position is so clear I would hope so.

Note: The exchange began at 10:05 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, Executive Delegate for the United Nations Secretary-General on the humanitarian situation in Iraq. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.