Informal Exchange With Reporters on Diplomatic Talks With the Palestine Liberation Organization


December 15, 1988


Q. Mr. President, what is it that makes you think that we can trust a terrorist organization like the PLO now to abide by the resolutions of the U.N. and to really renounce terrorism?


The President. Well, because the words have been spoken and the words were the words that we have been stating were necessary. But, of course, you then also -- the words must be matched by performance, and if they're not, why, we're back where we started.


Q. What do we do if they don't?


Q. What do you hope to come out of this dialog -- the start of the dialog?


The President. Well, it's all just another step in what we've been trying for 8 years to bring about: peace in the Middle East.


Q. Israel is very upset about this, to say the least. Are you saying anything to them? Do they have a reason to be somewhat upset?


The President. Well, I don't think so, in the sense that we have made it very plain that we have not retreated 1 inch from our position of guaranteeing the safety of Israel.


Q. Shouldn't we also ask Israel to abide by the resolutions?


The President. Well, I think that since Israel was part of the resolutions, I think Israel is already in the position of not wanting terrorism and so forth.


Q. Well, that isn't the point. Will she accept 242 and 338, as you're asking the Palestinians?


The President. Yes, I think so.


Note: The exchange began at 11:05 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House, prior to a meeting with Prime Minister Turgut Ozal of Turkey.