Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the Senate Action Banning the Sale of Certain Arms to Kuwait


July 8, 1988


The President is dismayed at the precipitate action taken by the Senate yesterday evening banning the sale of Maverick D&G missiles to Kuwait. These missiles are an integral part of the pending $2 billion sale of F - 18 aircraft to Kuwait. The Senate action, taken in a matter of minutes without the benefit of committee hearings or deliberation, is unfortunate and damaging to U.S. foreign policy interests.


Kuwait is a moderate state that has stood fast in the face of threats and intimidation to its security and survival. It has actively supported our efforts, diplomatic and military, in the Gulf region. A stable, secure Kuwait serves the national security interest of the United States. Kuwait has come to the United States and asked, as a friend, for the legitimate and necessary tools to provide for its own defense and to share with us the defense of the vital Persian Gulf. Congress has repeatedly asked what the Gulf States are doing for their own defense. Kuwait has answered that they wish to do more and have indicated their preference to work with us in doing so, yet some in the Senate apparently wish to reject this request and have Kuwait turn elsewhere.


The Kuwaiti request for F - 18's and the weapons that normally go with them deserves serious consideration by the Senate. The administration stands ready to work with Congress during the remaining weeks of the formal notification period in its examination of this sale. We would welcome Senate hearings to explore the implications and justification for the sale and to consult fully with the Congress on this critical issue.