Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on United States Policy in the Persian Gulf

June 30, 1987

I'll have a brief statement on behalf of the President, and Secretary Shultz and Secretary Weinberger will follow me to take questions. Secretary Shultz has to leave very soon to attend a funeral, so we will proceed rapidly.

The President just finished meeting with the bipartisan leadership of the Congress on our policy in the Persian Gulf. It was agreed that the United States has vital interests in the Gulf, that we cannot permit a hostile power to establish a dominant position there, that we must remain a reliable security partner for our friends in that region, and that continued close consultation between the administration and the Congress is essential.

The U.S. strategy for protecting our interests in the Gulf must continue to focus on the urgent need to bring the Iran-Iraq war, now in its seventh bloody year, to the earliest possible negotiated end, leaving no victor and no vanquished. In the weeks ahead, the administration will be pursuing diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions in the Gulf and help end the Iran-Iraq war. As the President emphasized yesterday in letters to all members of the U.N. Security Council, the United States urges that the Security Council meet before the middle of July to pass a strong, comprehensive resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal to borders, exchange of prisoners, establishment of an impartial body to determine responsibility for the conflict, and an international postwar reconstruction effort. The President directed Secretary of State Shultz to personally represent him at that meeting, as well as to manage our overall diplomatic effort. United Nations Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar supports this effort.

In the meantime, the United States will be consulting at the United Nations on a second resolution that would place effective sanctions to bear against any party which refuses to comply with the cease-fire withdrawal resolution. The President is sending Ambassador Walters to several capitals for consultations on Security Council action. As we pursue this major diplomatic initiative, we will continue efforts to bolster the security of our friends in the Gulf.

We are moving forward with preparations for registration under U.S. flag of 11 Kuwaiti-owned tankers, as well as with careful security arrangements to protect them. We expect those arrangements to be in place by mid-July, at which time we plan to proceed. When we begin this operation, those tankers will be full-fledged U.S.-flagged vessels, entitled to the protection the U.S. Navy has historically accorded to U.S.-flagged vessels around the world. We will also continue to work closely with our friends and allies and with the Congress on meeting and reducing the security threat in the Gulf.

The administration's overriding goals in the Persian Gulf today are to help our moderate Arab friends defend themselves, to improve the chances for peace by helping demonstrate that Iran's policy of intimidation will not work, to bring about a just settlement of the Iran-Iraq war that will preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both parties, to curtail the expansion of Soviet presence and influence in this strategic area, and to deter an interruption of the flow of oil. The administration will continue to pursue these aims with forceful and energetic diplomacy in the weeks ahead.

Note: Marlin Fitzwater read the statement to reporters at 10:47 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House. Vernon A. Walters was the U.S. Representative to the United Nations.