THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY WITH PRESIDENT CLERIDES OF CYPRUS
The Oval Office
5:50 P.M. EDT
Q Mr. President, is the United States willing to be a guarantor for Cyprus?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we want to do what we can to promote a good agreement there, and we're going to be actively involved in working toward a peaceful settlement. The talks are just about to start again and I don't think I should say or do anything which would disrupt them. But I'm glad to have the President here. I really appreciate the attitude he's taken. And I think that we have the best chance we've had in quite a long while to have a peaceful, successful conclusion to these talks.
Q Mr President, do you think that you have at least the appearance of a problem in firing seven people, five of them apparently without cause, and replacing them with a relative and a major campaign contributor?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think, first of all, you ought to talk to my staff people who made those decisions. We reviewed the operation of every part of the White House. There was an audit -- a review audit by Peat, Marwick. It is my understanding that the decision was made based on striving for inefficiency and striving to end -- striving to end inefficiency and mismanagement. And I believe the very first chartered plane flight coming out tomorrow under the new order of things is going to save about 25 percent over the old policy. And we're going to save the taxpayers money and save the press money, something I heard mentioned at the last press dinner.
So I think what they're trying to do is right. If you have any particular questions about what they did, I would refer you to the people who made the decisions.
Q Mr. President, Senator Bond has written you a letter saying that there's a pattern of firing experienced public servants and replacing them with young political appointees.
THE PRESIDENT: I ask that you look at the facts. Is he defending the practices? Are you defending the practices? We now have a report on this. Do you think it's fine to have no-bid plane rides? At the press dinner there was a complaint about the costs of these plane rides to the press. The very first time in the new regime we go to a competitive bidding, modern system -- anything that you would expect done in any sort of private company and there's a 25 percent savings. Look at the facts, evaluate the facts, and draw your own conclusions.
Q on this issue and the haircut issue?
THE PRESIDENT: Not for me. That's what we've got a First Amendment for. All I know is the taxpayers save money and the press saves money.
Q Mr. President, do you see any room for a direct U.S. involvement in the Cyprus issue?
THE PRESIDENT: The President is just about to start another round of talks and I don't think I should prejudge the talks. But I have assured him that the United States wants to be active and constructive. And I think we have a reasonable chance to see a successful conclusion of these talks, perhaps the best chance in a long time. Not because of me, but because of where the parties are and the leadership that will be exercised. And the United States, if we can be helpful, we want to be. But I don't think we should be specific. I think we should let whatever happens come out of these talks and obviously be generated from the parties themselves.
Q Is your administration prepared to provide some type of guarantee, assurances, resolutions from Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Let's see what comes out of the talks and what we're asked to do. Again, I want to be supportive of the process. And I think that if we're supportive of the process, then we're more likely to get a good result. I don't think I should prejudge it, or anything we might be asked to do.
END5:55 P.M. EDT